Windows 7 RC Adds New Remote Media Streaming, Virtual Windows XP Mode

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The Windows 7 Release Candidate leaked earlier today contains a lot of minor tweaks to previous beta versions of the new operating system, but Microsoft says that it also has a couple of new features: A Windows 7 PC will now be able to stream media from your home to any Internet-connected Windows 7 PC, and for the first time the OS supports (via an optional download) a virtual Windows XP environment for running legacy Windows XP apps.

Microsoft highlighted these new capabilities in a 29-page document sent to reviewers after RC code began appearing on file-sharing sites. The document, called "Windows 7 Product Update - Key Changes Included in the Release Candidate," cites many refinements to existing features, but only the remote media streaming and XP Mode features are specifically identified as new features. (Most of the tweaks had previously been documented on the Engineering Windows 7 blog.)

The document concludes with a page about features that were in previous beta versions but have been removed from this one. For example, the RC no longer includes a Bluetooth audio-class driver (vendors of Bluetooth audio devices must now provide their own drivers).

The RC no longer supports the ability to drag and drop folders into Windows 7 Libraries, which you previously could do to create a new library. Since libraries are virtual folders, Microsoft said that it feared users might delete the original folder, supposing that it now existed in the library.

Microsoft also appended a clarification about the Windows Easy Transfer feature for synchronizing data between PCs, saying that it would work only on PCs running Windows 7, or the Windows 7 version of Windows Easy Transfer (which has to be installed manually on Vista and XP PCs).

Microsoft's Windows Blog states that the company still expects to release the Windows 7 RC officially to Microsoft Developers Network and TechNet subscribers on April 30, with broader public availability to begin on May 5.

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