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Consumers can download the Release Candidate build of Microsoft's slick new OS, Windows 7, and try it out for themselves. Both 32- and 64-bit versions are available for download.
Consumers can finally get their hands on a near-release copy of the latest version of Windows

Windows 7 has the tech community and the consumer world buzzing.  For consumers, it has been a long four months since the release of the Windows 7 beta which saw hundreds of thousands of downloads.  Some turned to torrents to try to swipe the newer beta builds or the recent Release Candidate, but for most it was a matter of waiting.

The waiting is over at last as Microsoft has officially released the Release Candidate 1 build of Windows 7 to the general public.  The build is available directly from Microsoft for download.

Microsoft is suggesting that novice users not download the build as no tech support will be provided.  Customers who download the build will have to burn the ISO onto a disk.  Unlike the more recent beta candidate builds, the RC1 build requires a complete reinstall, even on machines with a working build of Windows 7.

Both 32- and 64-bit versions of the build are available.  Microsoft recommends users' computers have at least 1GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of free disk space.

Microsoft is promising not to limit the number of downloads of the new release, like it initially did for the beta release (before later relenting and allowing unlimited downloads).  The beta release proved a headache for some, as the large demand crashed some of Microsoft's servers at the time, rendering many eager users unable to download the beta from Microsoft.  Microsoft is hoping that this time around things go more smoothly.

The test builds of Windows 7 will work until June 2010, but starting in March 2010 they will shut down every two hours.

Microsoft has publicly stated that Windows 7 will launch "no later than January 2010."  However, it now appears that the new OS will land in time for the holiday season, as Acer has leaked its release date as October 23.

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RE: Working OK so far
By Screwballl on 5/5/2009 12:13:53 PM , Rating: 4
It is a combination of actual load times, boot times and perception. On this same system, XP SP3 loads in just over 2 minutes (typical boot times was around 2:03-2:10), W7 beta (x86) came in around 2:45, W7 RC 7100 (x86) comes in around 2:25, and Vista x64 is at a usable state around 3:45 to 4 minutes. I have tried fresh clean installs different security programs, no security programs, after multiple attempts, different hard drives, no matter what I do, I cannot get this x64 Vista Ultimate to come in any lower than 3:30.
As for application boot times, using the exact same Photoshop CS2 program and options, no scripts or anything extra. Amount of time to load the program itself, not an image or anything else, from double clicking the program link itself: XP SP3 = 21 seconds, Vista x64 = 48 seconds, W7 beta = 22 seconds, W7 RC 7100 = 21 seconds.

As for the feel of it, W7 does feel that it can be used and is in fact usable before even XP but there are still programs loading in the background when it is at a usable point. Usually on XP this is met with a delay of several seconds before you see something actually happen. With Vista x64, there is a delay of usually 10-15 seconds under the same circumstances. I did testing using IE8, Firefox 3.0.10, Google Earth, and Songbird.

RE: Working OK so far
By jarman on 5/5/2009 12:35:58 PM , Rating: 2
Are those boot times hard disk only or are you also using Speedboost?

RE: Working OK so far
By anotherdude on 5/5/2009 2:52:40 PM , Rating: 2
I have tried fresh clean installs different security programs, no security programs, after multiple attempts, different hard drives, no matter what I do, I cannot get this x64 Vista Ultimate to come in any lower than 3:30.

I have a very similar spec system and Vista 64, after a fresh install, gets usable way faster than that for me. Same on my much lower spec laptop - my conclusion is that your experience is not typical.

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