Microsoft to end Windows 7 RC downloads Aug. 15

Windows 7 Beta begins auto-rebooting July 1

Microsoft will turn off the Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) tap on Aug. 15, the company said today.

"The [Release Candidate] download program closes August 15. After that, you won't be able to get the download, but you can still install the RC and get a key if you need one," Microsoft employee Stephen Rose said on a company blog today.

Microsoft launched Windows 7 RC, the final public preview of the upcoming operating system, on May 4. At the time, Microsoft said that the RC would be available at least through July, a change from its policy earlier in the year, when a download cap on the beta overwhelmed the download servers on opening day.

Windows 7 will hit retail and debut on new PCs on Oct. 22, Microsoft has said.

The release candidate will not expire until June 1, 2010, although it will begin automatically shutting down at two-hour intervals starting March 1, 2010.

Rose reminded users of Windows 7 Beta that they face those auto-shutdowns much sooner. "You need to move to the RC and fast," he said. "Starting July 1, the Beta will start to reboot every 2 hours and [it will] expire Aug 1."

Microsoft panicked some Windows 7 Beta users last month when it mistakenly told them that the auto-rebooting would start June 1.

Users can download Windows 7 RC at this Microsoft site, where they can also obtain a product activation key.

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