Windows 7 Release Candidate Coming In May -- Or Not

Kevin McLaughlin

The latest example of this came Thursday, when Microsoft posted a page its TechNet's Web site indicating that the Windows 7 Release Candidate will be launched in May.

First spied by Ars Technica, the page has since been replaced with the Windows 7 beta download page, which offers visitors the message: "Sorry, Windows 7 Beta downloads are no longer available."

The Windows 7 Release Candidate, which refers to the next milestone for the operating system that's usually very similar to the final release, has been rumored to be slated for launch in April. But a Microsoft spokesperson told that the company hasn't released a specific date for the Windows 7 RC launch.

According to the now-edited Microsoft webpage, Microsoft will make the Windows 7 RC available at least through June of this year, and it will expire on June 1, 2010. Microsoft also won't limit the number of Windows 7 RC product keys.

Microsoft's official timeframe for launching Windows 7 is late 2009, although many industry analysts expect it to come in time for OEMs to pre-install the OS on new PCs in time for the holiday season.

Microsoft, to its great regret, wasn't able to get Windows Vista out in time for the 2006 holiday season, but given the positive feedback from the thousands of Windows 7 beta testers, Windows 7 looks to be just about ready.

The only question at this point is whether U.S. consumers will have any money left to actually buy new PCs by the time the country limps into the holiday season.

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