A flurry of news today:
- The Windows 7 Release Candidate will be available for download by the public on May 5, with early access for MSDN/TechNet subscribers and beta testers on April 30.
- The Release Candidate build is officially 7100, but functionally it’s identical to the leaked builds that have been circulating for several weeks. No changes, no new UI.
- One new feature announced today (I had an early warning about it) is called Windows XP Mode. In a nutshell, when Windows 7 is released to manufacturing Microsoft plans to release an add-on called Windows XP Mode for users of its business versions of Windows 7 that will include a fully licensed copy of Windows XP SP3 running in a virtual machine.
I’m also told that some early reports of Windows XP Mode are inaccurate. I’m still waiting for more details and code. The fact that this add-on isn’t available in the RC suggests it’s still under development and you should be skeptical of any reports you read now.
Update Apr-27: Here’s what I’ve posted in the Windows 7 RC FAQ:
Microsoft has announced that it will release a custom version of Virtual PC with a licensed copy of Windows XP SP3 and make the combination available as a download for licensed users of the business editions of Windows 7 (Professional and up). This add-on, called Windows XP Mode) will not be included with the release candidate, nor will it be part of the final RTM product.
I’ve posted my update on XP Mode at ZDNet today (“Why all the fuss over XP Mode?” Hint: It’s not about tech, it’s about licensing.)
If you want a hands-on look, Rafael Rivera and Paul Thurrott have a report on an early pre-beta release of the add-on. Those who are interested in the gory technical details can read Rafael Rivera’s breakdown of Windows XP Mode Internals.