Microsoft will issue up to 10 test updates to the Windows 7 Release Candidate this week.
The patches will be released on May 12. Their purpose, as Microsoft spokesperson Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a corporate blog posting, is to "verify our ability to deliver and manage updating of Windows 7 in certain real-life scenarios."
"These updates do not deliver any new features or fixes," LeBlanc noted, referencing Microsoft's February 2009 updating of the Windows 7 Beta. Those previous updates, as with the new one, did not deliver any new features, nor fix existing issues; their sole purpose was to test whether, when the time came for real updates, the process would run smoothly. At the same time, Microsoft released updates to Vista SP2 that actually enhanced both hardware and software aspects.
Microsoft hopes that Windows 7 will be seen as an improvement over Vista, and has included a number of new features designed to appeal to enterprise users, such as BranchCache file caching and DirectAccess VPN-replacement technology.
User comments on the Microsoft corporate blog varied in tone. Some thanked the company for the update, while others used the forum to ask the company to fix other issues with the release candidate.
The Windows 7 Release Candidate, launched on May 4, contains several small tweaks over the Beta version, particularly with regard to security and timing. The Release Candidate can be downloaded here and here. The full rollout of the operating system will occur before the end of 2009, according to the company.
The Windows 7 Release Candidate will be available at least through June 2009, and expire on June 1, 2010. Starting March 1, 2010, a PC running the Release Candidate will shut down every two hours unless a non-expired version of Windows is installed before that date.
Microsoft has considerable pressure to deliver an OS success. For the fiscal third quarter ended March 31, the company reported a 6.5 percent year-over-year decrease in revenues, its first-ever quarterly revenue decline.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer seems like he would like the world to embrace Windows 7 - and forget Vista. In a classroom-style conversation with 1,200 Stanford students on May 6, he suggested that his company is looking past Vista's marketplace crash-landing. "A product like software is only as good as the last release...or two," a Reuters report quoted him as saying. "Yes, thank you. Moving right along."