The near-final version of Microsoft’s next operatingsystem, Windows 7, became available late Monday to the general public.
Microsoft will collect feedback on the Windows 7 releasecandidate over the next few months, fixing small issues. The company alloweddevelopers and other testers to begin downloading the release candidate lastweek.
Windows 7 comes nearly three years after Windows Vista, which took fiveyears for Microsoft to engineer but was regarded by some as underwhelming.Microsoft hasn’t said when the final Windows 7 version will be released,although it’s rumored to be out before year’s end.
Microsoft warned it is not offering technical support for the Windows 7release candidate, so those who install it are on their own. Users should befamiliar with installing an operating system from scratch, formatting a harddrive and backing up data, among other skills, Microsoft advised.
In the Windows 7 release notes, Microsoft warnsof several problems that haven’t been resolved, including issues with itslatest Web browser, Internet Explorer 8 (IE8).
Microsoft released the Windows 7 beta in Arabic and Hindi, but thoselanguages have been replaced with French and Spanish in the releasecandidate. English is available for both versions.
The Windows 7 release candidate will only work for so long. It is due toexpire on June 1, 2010. Three months prior, the release candidate willautomatically shut down a person’s computer after two hours.
The Window 7 beta expires on Aug. 1, and computers with that version willbegin shutting themselves down after two hours beginning July 1.
Microsoft said that Windows Vista users will not need to reinstall theirapplications after upgrading to the Windows 7 release candidate. The companydoes, however, recommend backing up data as a precaution. Vista users willhave to do a clean install, however, to go from the Windows 7 releasecandidate to the final version.
Windows XP users should back up their data and do a clean install of theWindows 7 release candidate.
To run the 32-bit version of the release candidate, a computer should have a1 GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of hard disk space and a DirectX9 graphics processor with WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) 1.0 or higherdriver.
For the 64-bit version, Microsoft recommends a 1 GHz or faster processor,2GB of RAM, 20GB of hard disk space and a DirectX 9 graphics processor withWDDM 1.0 or higher driver.