Microsoft made Windows 7 RTM available for download to volume license customers on Aug. 7, a day after it opened the final version of the operating system to download by MSDN and TechNet subscribers.
Volume license customers will be able to download through the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). MSDN and TechNet subscribers can download through either Microsoft Connect or MSDN.
These earliest downloads, however, are only available in English; the remaining languages will be released "in a few weeks" for volume-license customers and by Oct. 1 for MSDN and TechNet subscribers.
Those volume-licensing customers looking to download Windows 7 today will need an existing Software Assurance (SA) license; those without one will need to wait until Sept. 1 to purchase through the VLSC.
The new operating system's general release to consumers remains Oct. 22. Microsoft Partner Gold/Certified Members will be able to download the RTM on Aug. 16, and Microsoft Action Pack Subscribers will be able to download on Aug. 23.
Microsoft is depending on a substantial operating-system hit in order to strengthen its declining revenue numbers. During its July 23 earnings call, Microsoft reported a 17 percent decline in year-over-year revenue for the fourth quarter of 2009, undershooting Wall Street estimates by more than $1 billion, as continued weakness in the PC market reduced demand for Microsoft products.
However, Redmond could see economic green shoots in a recent deep-drill survey by Deutsche Bank, which suggested that Windows 7 would experience "a faster user take-up than [for] the highly successful Windows XP." The report added that, "Win-7 penetration rates could exceed the levels achieved with [Windows] Vista and start to match the penetration rates that XP & Windows 2000 took two years to reach, potentially within 12 to 18 months."
The hardware infrastructure upgrade could be driven by both SMBs (small and midsize businesses) and the enterprise looking to upgrade their equipment, which by 2008 had an average age of 6.1 years. An industry-wide hardware refresh could also benefit a number of companies that support Microsoft's ecosystem, including Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Nvidia, Micron Technology, Samsung, and Hewlett-Packard.