Microsoft Takes Windows 7 RTM Public

Microsoft will kick off the public roll-out of Windows 7's final code Thursday when it posts the official "release to manufacturing" (RTM) build of the OS on its for-pay developer and IT professional sites.

As Microsoft announced last month when it declared Windows 7 finished, RTM will be delivered first to TechNet and Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscribers.

Only the English-language editions of Windows 7 will hit the download sections of the two services tomorrow. Other language-specific versions of the new operating system will be available on TechNet and MSDN Oct. 1.

Software and hardware vendors will be able to download Windows 7 RTM Thursday as well, from either MSDN or Microsoft Connect, the company's primary beta software portal.

Some beta testers will also be able to grab Windows 7 RTM on Thursday. Last week, Microsoft did a 180 and said that people who participated in its invitation-only Technical Beta Program will be rewarded with a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, which they can download from Connect.

Companies with Software Assurance plans can download RTM starting Friday.

The general public, however, will have to wait until Oct. 22, Windows 7's launch day, to put eyes legally on the final version. Pirated copies of RTM have been widely available on file-sharing sites since mid-July.

Users not on Windows 7's A-list can still download the Release Candidate (RC), which Microsoft makes available free-of-charge on its Web site. Although the company had originally pegged Aug. 15 as the drop dead date for Windows 7 RC, it has since extended the deadline to Aug. 20.

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