Like the beta version of Windows 7, this release candidate version of Windows 7 is extremely stable. As this is the release candidate version, the function and feature set will be near identical to the final release of Windows 7, which is very likely to be released later this fall.
One surprising fact is that the release candidate version of Windows 7 will expire in June 1, 2010. That's right, well over a year. So essentially, you can use this RC version of Windows 7 for free for over a year!
Several users have already noted that Windows 7 is already better than XP and Vista in usability and performance. Some are even commenting that Windows 7 could be the best version of Windows ever released, which wouldn't be surprising, given how fast and stable the beta versions of Windows 7 have been.
To download the release candidate version of Windows 7, you can grab it here: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/window ... nload.aspx
Here are more details about the release candidate version of Windows 7:
Welcome to Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) testing. We're on our way to Windows 7, and if you like trying out pre-release software, now’s your chance. You get to see what's coming, and we get to see if our changes and fixes from the Beta testing are working correctly.
How do you test the software? You put it on your PC, and then do what you'd normally do. Your PC will automatically and anonymously send our engineers the information they need to verify the fixes and changes they made based on the Windows 7 Beta tests.
Here's what you need to know:
This is pre-release software, so please read the following to get an idea of the risks and key things you need to know before you try the RC.
* You don't need to rush to get the RC. The RC will be available at least through July 2009 and we're not limiting the number of product keys, so you have plenty of time.
* Watch the calendar. The RC will expire on June 1, 2010. Starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Windows will notify you two weeks before the bi-hourly shutdowns start. To avoid interruption, you’ll need to install a non-expired version of Windows before March 1, 2010. You’ll also need to install the programs and data that you want to use. (Learn more about installing Windows.)
* Protect your PC and data. Be sure to back up your data and please don't test the RC on your primary home or business PC.
* Tech details/updates: Before installing the RC, please read the Release Notes and Things to Know for important information about the release.
* Keep up with the news. You can keep up with general technical information and news by following the team blog. And, you can get non-technical news, tips, and offers by subscribing to the monthly Exploring Windows newsletter.
* Keep your PC updated: Be sure to turn on automatic updates in Windows Update in case we publish updates for the RC.
* Installation: You can install the Windows 7 RC on a PC running Windows Vista without backing up the PC—but we encourage you to make a backup for safe keeping. If you’re running Windows XP or the Windows 7 Beta, you’ll need to backup your data, then do a clean installation of the RC, then reinstall your applications and restore your data. If you need to do a backup, please see How to back up your PC for more details and a suggestion for how to backup a PC running Windows 7 Beta or Windows Vista.
* To install and use the RC, you'll need to know how to:
- Troubleshoot problems. You're pretty much flying solo, so you'll need to handle your own tech support, and rely on other RC testers for their know-how
- Burn an ISO file to make an installation DVD
- Install Windows
- Backup and restore your PC
- Set up a network
- Create and use a system recovery disk
* To learn more about the Windows 7 RC, see Frequently asked questions.
Here's what you need to have:
* Internet access (to download Windows 7 RC and get updates)
* A PC with these system requirements:
- 1 GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
- 1 GB RAM (32-bit) / 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
- 16 GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20 GB (64-bit)
- DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Please note these specifications could change. And, some product features of Windows 7, such as the ability to watch and record live TV or navigation through the use of "touch," may require advanced or additional hardware
Source: Microsoft.com - Windows 7 Release Candidate Customer Preview Program