Windows 7 RC is now publicly out!

Thank you for testing the Windows 7 Beta. You’re playing an important role in helping deliver the best version of Windows yet. Now, we hope you’ll join us for the next part of the Windows 7 journey, testing the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC).

This is the really fun part of the testing process: you help by simply using the RC. When you do, your PC will automatically and anonymously send our engineers the information they need to validate the changes and fixes they made based on the Beta tests and your feedback.

Read this first

Here’s what you need to know before you get started:

  • You don’t need to rush! The RC will be available at least through July, and we’re not limiting the number of downloads or product keys. So you have plenty of time.

  • Installation: If you are running Windows 7 Beta you’ll need to back up your data (preferably on an external device) and then do a clean install of the Windows 7 Release Candidate. Then, you’ll need to reinstall applications and restore your files. If you need help, please see the Installation Instructions.

  • Tech details/updates: before installing the RC, please read the Release Notes and Things to Know for important information about the release.

  • Routine news: For day-to-day news, keep an eye on the team blog. And, you can get non-technical news, tips, and offers by subscribing to the monthly Exploring Windows newsletter.

  • Back up your data: We know you know this already, but please back up your data and please don’t test the RC on your primary home or business PC.

  • Keep your PC updated: To get critical updates, be sure to turn on automatic updates in Windows Update.

  • Remember expiration dates: Please plan ahead for the Beta and RC expiration dates. To avoid interruption, you’ll need to rebuild your test machine using a valid version of Windows before the software expires. Windows will notify you that the expiration process is beginning and two weeks later your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. The Beta expires onAugust 1, 2009, and bi-hourly shutdowns will begin July 1, 2009. The RC will expire June 1, 2010, and the bi-hourly shutdowns will begin on March 1, 2010. In both cases, you’ll need to rebuild your test PC to replace the OS and reinstall all your programs and data.

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