Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 release candidate availability

There’s been a lot of chatter on the ‘net about Windows 7 release dates and new features but a lot of it is based on one or two leaks that then get reported (and sometimes misreported) across a variety of news sites and blogs.

After various reports that we could see a Windows 7 release candidate (RC) earlier in April, and various leaked builds, today’s the day when the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 RCs will officially be made available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers (the client release candidate was announced last week and the official announcement around the Windows Server 2008 R2 release candidate is due today).

For those who are not TechEd or MSDN subscribers, the RC will be available to the public on/around 5 May.

Whilst the Windows 7 client was already feature complete at the beta, the server version, Windows Server 2008 R2, includes some new functionality – some of which I’ll detail in a separate blog post and some of which will not be announced until TechEd on 11 May 2009.

If you want to know more about the Windows 7 release candidate, then Ed Bott has a Windows 7 release candidate FAQ which is a good place to start. One thing you won’t find in there though is a release date for Windows 7, as Bott quotes one Microsoft executive:

“Those who know, won’t say. Those who say, don’t know.”

As for the future of Windows Mary Jo Foley reported last week that work is underway on “Windows 8″ and is suggesting it could be with us as early as 2011/2. If Microsoft continues the 2-year major/minor cycles for the server version and co-develops the Windows client and server releases again, that would fit but, for now, let’s concentrate on Windows 7!

Finally, Microsoft has a new website launching tomorrow (but which has been available for a few days now) aimed at IT professionals in the Windows space. If you find the Engineering Windows 7 blog a little wordy (sometimes I wish they would stick to the Twitter rule of 140 characters!), Talking About Windows is a video blog which provides insight on Windows 7 from the Microsoft engineers who helped build the product, combined with real-world commentary from IT professionals.

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