awaited RC1 of Windows 7, also known as build 7100, is now available to download for the general public directly from Microsoft. For those that didn't want to try the beta, the new RC might be worth a try, especially as it'll work until the 1st of June 2010, or will it?
Microsoft is very keen on drumming up interest in Windows 7, not only among the general public, but even more so with corporate customers, as many companies skipped upgrading to Windows Vista. From our own early impressions Windows 7 is a vast improvement all around compared to Vista, but we're not sure if it will be enough to convince big corporations to upgrade. The system requirements are fairly low and Windows 7 should work on most systems that can run Windows XP.
The release candidate of Windows 7 is unusual in that it won't expire as quickly as past RC versions of various operating systems from Microsoft, although there seems to be a catch. Earlier reports suggested that the RC1 of Windows 7 wouldn't expire until June 2010 and this is true, at least in part. However, from the 1st of March 2010, the release candidate will start "bi-hourly shutdowns" which means that your PC will turn itself off every two hours.
Presumably Windows 7 will already have hit retail by then and this will be a way for Microsoft to get people to purchase a legit copy of Windows 7. The question is if it will be possible to upgrade the RC1 to a retail version of Windows 7 and we have a feeling that this won't be the case, especially as Microsoft says that "You’ll also need to install the programs and data that you want to use" on the RC1 download page.
The Windows 7 RC will be available for download until and unspecified date in June, and you can download it from here