Microsoft Shoots Blanks At Windows 7 Users

Redmond this week plans to send a batch of test files to Release Candidate users to validate auto-update systems.
Microsoft on Tuesday plans to ping users of its Windows 7 Release Candidate software with up to 10 updates designed to test its ability to update the operating system on the fly. Feedback mechanisms built into the OS will automatically inform Redmond if the tests were successful.

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"Starting this Tuesday (May 12th) we will release up to ten test updates to PCs running the Windows 7 RC in order to verify our ability to deliver and manage updating of Windows 7 in certain real-life scenarios," wrote Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's in-house Windows blogger, in a post last week.

Most of the test files will self-install, while a few will require manual installation by the user. "These updates do not deliver any new features or fixes," LeBlanc noted. Microsoft previously dispatched a series of test updates to Windows 7 users on Feb. 24.

Microsoft is ramping up efforts to complete Windows 7 as soon as possible, potentially with an eye to releasing a final version of the operating system in time for the key back-to-school shopping season.

Last week, the company made available a trial version of a software tool that assesses whether a given PC can run Windows 7.

Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, as it's called, examines a PC's components, including chip, memory, storage, and graphics processor, to automatically determine whether the system can run Windows 7. A beta version of Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor is now available as a download from Microsoft's Web site. LeBlanc didn't state when a final version would be ready.

Also last week, Microsoft made Windows 7 Release Candidate available as a free download from the company's Windows Web site.

Windows 7 RC contains most of the features that will end up in the final version of the OS, including support for touch-screen interfaces, and it's been tested for compatibility with hardware and software from most major vendors through a months-long beta trial program. Still, Microsoft typically warns computer users not to use prerelease software for critical tasks or in key business production environments.

Windows 7 RC will function until June 1, 2010. After that date, users will need to upgrade their PC to a full, paid version of the operating system in order to keep using the software.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

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