Microsoft made it official today: both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 have been released to manufacturing, following through on the software giant's promise to "RTM" Windows 7 in the second half of July.
The RTM milestone is not earth-shattering news to consumers, as most of the end-user Windows 7 features have been on display in beta and release candidate form for months. But it is an important step for Microsoft partners and developers. OEMs (original equipment makers) will now have final code to get PCs ready, software development partners can test new applications, and independent hardware vendors can prepare new hardware.
Windows 7 marks the first time since Windows 2000 that the client and server versions of Windows will release simultaneously. The networking features that bind the client and server such as DirectAccess and BranchCache have been well-documented at this point, as have the popular Windows 7 desktop features on the client side such as a revamped taskbar and the Aero graphical interface.
What's most compelling about Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 RTMs is the sense of closure. The development of both has been completed and the final code is ready to be sent off to partners, OEMs and developers.
In a Microsoft company blog post announcing Windows 7 RTM, marketing manager Brandon LeBlanc highlights the extensive testing that led the company to the RTM milestone. "We had over 10 million people opt-in to the CEIP (Customer Experience Improvement Program) ... Through CEIP, our engineers were guided by customer feedback all the way to RTM."
Here's a rundown of how the RTM of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will affect everyone from PC makers to IT managers.
What Win 7 RTM Means for Business Users and IT Pros
Volume license customers that have an SA (Software Assurance) license with Microsoft will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English on August 7 through the VLSC (Volume License Service Center). Microsoft says the rest of the languages for Windows 7 RTM should be available within a couple of weeks after that.
Volume License customers without an SA license will be able to purchase Windows 7 through Volume Licensing starting on Sept. 1.
IT professionals who want Windows 7 RTM have a few options. If they have TechNet subscriptions, they can download Windows 7 RTM in English on August 6 and in the remaining languages on Oct. 1.
If your company has an SA license with Microsoft you can download Windows 7 RTM in English on August 7 through the VLSC (Volume License Service Center). If your company does not have SA, you will have to wait until Sept. 1.
Microsoft also has a resource called The Springboard Series
This story, "Windows RTM FAQ: Read This Now" was originally published by CIO.