Windows 7 is NOW free for a Year! Grab your copy of Windows 7 RC

May 6, 2009 and till June 2010, Microsoft is allowing free downloads of the Release Candidate version of Windows 7 to the public. As part of Microsoft’s Customer Review Program, the RC version will be free to download and will be "available at least through June 30, 2009" with no limits on the number of downloads of product keys available, sites claim.

Windows 7 comes nearly three years after Windows Vista, which took five years 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 rumoured to be out before year’s end, according to an Indian PC Magazine,

Microsoft warned it is not offering technical support for the Windows 7 release candidate, so those who install it are on their own. Users should be familiar with installing an operating system from scratch, formatting a hard drive and backing up data, among other skills, Microsoft advised.

In the Windows 7 release notes, Microsoft warns of several problems that haven’t been resolved, including issues with its latest web browser, Internet Explorer 8 (IE8).

Debugging JavaScript with the developer tools in IE8 could throw up a warning that a website is not responding, but that warning can be ignored. Also, some web pages may have misaligned text or missing images. Microsoft recommends clicking on the "compatibility view" button on the address bar as a fix.

Windows XP users should back up their data and do a clean install of the Windows 7 release candidate. Here’s requirements for Windows 7 Ultimate: To run the 32-bit version of the release candidate, a computer should have a 1GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of hard disk space and a DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM (Windows Display Driver Model) 1.0 or higher driver. For the 64-bit version, Microsoft recommends a 1GHz or faster processor, 2GB of RAM, 20GB of hard disk space and a DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver. 

When Microsoft launched the beta version of its latest operating system in January this year, it revealed it would restrict the preview to the first 2.5 million users, which caused a stampede that brought the company’s severs to their knees. Microsoft restarted the launch the next day after sorting out the mess and adding more bandwidth and servers. Later, Microsoft dropped the download limit and extended the time it would be available to a full month.

Microsoft has announced that the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) will automatically shut down on a regular basis months before the final public preview is due to expire next year. The software giant had previously promised that the Windows 7 RC, which is available now for free, would work until August 1, 2010. However, the company plans to take a heavy-handed approach to encouraging people to upgrade to the full retail version from next March.

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