Microsoft slates May date for Windows 7 RC download

The Windows 7 RC will also expire on an different date than the beta

Microsoft Corp. will issue a public release candidate of Windows 7 in May, according to the company's Web site.

The Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) download page on Microsoft's TechNet site carries a date of "May 2009," and spells out a slew of details about the upcoming public preview.

"You don't need to rush to get Windows 7 RC," the download page reads. "The RC release will be available at least through June 2009 and we're not limiting the number of product keys, so you have plenty of time."

When Microsoft issued the Windows 7 public beta in January, CEO Steve Ballmer said it would be available for only a "limited time;" the company originally said it would provide just 2.5 million keys on a first-come, first-served basis.

That led to a download overload on opening day, which in turn brought down Microsoft's servers. The company restarted the beta download the next day after beefing up its back-end infrastructure, and later ditched the download limit altogether.

The Windows 7 RC will also expire on an different date than the beta, according to Microsoft. While the beta came with an expiration date of Aug. 1, 2009, the RC won't expire until June 1, 2010. It's common for Microsoft to push out expiration dates of follow-on previews to give users plenty of time to migrate to the eventual final, for-money code.

Microsoft will initially offer Windows 7 RC in English, German, Japanese, French and Spanish versions, and will provide downloads in both 32- and 64-bit editions. That differs from the public beta, which was available in English, German, Japanese and Arabic for both 32- and 64-bit, and Hindi in the 32-bit version only.

"The RC version will not be available in Hindi or Arabic," Microsoft said.

Last month, some had pegged the RC delivery date as early as the first half of April.

Microsoft, which has regularly refused to put a delivery date to Windows 7 RC and has only hinted that it would make it available to the general public, was not immediately able to comment on the accuracy of the Windows 7 RC download page, or why it was posted. As of mid-day Thursday, the page remained live.

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Gregg Keizer

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