Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) has finally been released by Microsoft to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, plus Connect testers, as reported earlier. From April 30th, 2009 20:00 pm onwards, people with MSDN or TechNet subscription can go to Subscriber Downloads section to download the various original Windows 7 RC DVD ISO images. The genuine activation product keys to activate Windows 7 RC can also be generated, although the free beta product keys for Windows 7 Beta is still usable.

According to the press release, Windows 7 RC will be publicly available on May 5 on the Microsoft Download Center (http://microsoft.com/downloads), together with Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC (which has leaked). Windows 7 RC, when activated, will run until June 1, 2010, although after 1 March 2010 the installed system will reboot every two hours. Luckily, Windows 7 RTM will probably be released before the expiry date.

Windows 7 RC Downloads on MSDN and TechNet

Anyway, even though general can’t download Windows 7 from official Microsoft server yet, the Windows 7 RC ISO images have leaked way ahead of the official release date. Everybody who wants to try the OS can download the leaked Windows 7 RC ISO images via BitTorrent network. MSDN and TechNet subscribers can go to the following links to download instead. Both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) versions are available for download.

Microsoft TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/subscriptions/downloads/default.aspx?PV=36:350
MSDN: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/subscriptions/downloads/default.aspx?PV=36:350

Windows 7 RC has improved on several areas since Windows 7 Beta is released. For example, better touch and multi-touch support, better scaling of the Taskbar, remote media streaming which allow WMP (Windows Media Player) to playback video and music in media libraries stored on remote computer over the Internet, more compact Now Playing mode in WMP, improved Windows search, native Blu-Ray support on improved Windows Media Center, updated Device Stage for all devices, more attractive Windows Themes (download Windows 7 wallpapers), Windows Virtual PC and Windows XP mode.

Windows 7 RC also removes three features which are Bluetooth audio support, Guest Mode and Autorun for any device other than optical drives.

Interesting to note that, the SHA1 and CRC hash values provided by TechNet and MSDN have been identical with the leaked ISO images, proofing that the leaked DVD ISO images are untouched, unmodified, and real deal. It also means that the final Windows 7 RC build version is indeed 7100. Below is the details of several Windows 7 DVD ISOs.

Windows 7 Ultimate RC (x86) – DVD (English)

File Name: en_windows_7_ultimate_rc_x86_dvd_349010.iso
SHA1: 7D1F486CA569EFFFFB719CFB48355BB7BF499712
ISO/CRC: E8A1C394

Windows 7 Ultimate RC (x64) – DVD (English)

File Name: en_windows_7_ultimate_rc_x64_dvd_347803.iso
SHA1: FC867FE1AB2E0A9796F9E4D155B44EA6998F4874
ISO/CRC: 58FB2BE0

Microsoft has also confirmed that will be released in the Holiday season by Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte, as per speculation.

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