Windows 7 Beta to Stay Alive Until July

Early adopters of Microsoft’s next operating system won’t facedebilitating bi-hourly shutdowns or be forced to clean-install therelease candidate until July 1, despite an email that went out overthe holiday weekend setting a June 1 deadline.

The date for the shutdowns to begin isactually July 1, a month before the Windows 7 beta program expires, according to Microsoft Windows blogger Brandon LeBlanc, who posted the information early Tuesday to thecompany’s Windows 7 blog.

LeBlanc’s post doesn’t explain how the mix-up occurred. SpokespersonLauren Irving told TechNewsWorld that the posting would serve as thecompany’s comment on the matter.

Microsoft urged anyone using the beta to move to the releasecandidate, which is available for download now.

Testing Can Still Be Troublesome

However, users would perhaps be best advised not to install the prereleasesoftware on production machines or computers with critical data, said Michael Cherry, research vice president for operating systems at Directions on Microsoft — evenif it is a slick and stable operating system.

“I don’t have a lot of sympathy for someone who says they have atransition problem,” Cherry told TechNewsWorld. “You’re volunteeringto be a guinea pig.”

Microsoft itself has provided the same advice.

“While the RC is stable and has been thoroughly tested, it’s not thefinished product. Your computer could crash and you could loseimportant files. So please back up your data and please don’t test theRC on your primary home or business PC,” the software maker says in anFAQ on the release candidate.

Potential problems include software installation failures, printer andvideo card problems, network access issues and corrupted files.

Good Early Reviews

Nevertheless, the release candidate is already a solid system, Cherry said.

“It does have a lot more — I’ll call it ‘polish,'” he said. “It feelslike a lot of the rough edges of Vista have been removed. I think thisis why people are being deluded into using it as their primary OS.”

The release candidate differs from the beta version in several keyways, according to Microsoft.

Among the biggest additions is XP Mode, a virtual environment withinthe Windows 7 operating system that allows users to run older programs.The release candidate also differs from the beta in several otherways, according to Microsoft.

It removes autorun for non-optical drives, whichmakes it more difficult for malicious software to be introduced viaUSB drives.

The release candidate features faster startup, shutdown, resume,search and USB device recognition times.

It also includes new networking drivers designed to improve coverage across networks.

Beta to RC to Release Timeline

Microsoft’s current timeline calls for the beta program to end Aug. 1.Microsoft said it would like to release Windows 7 to manufacturersaround August to make PCs with the software available in time for theChristmas shopping season.

The release candidates are supposed to begin experiencing regularshutdowns on March 1, 2010, and will expire outright in June 2010,according to Microsoft.

Vista SP2 Moving Toward Release

In related news, the latest service pack for Vista, SP2, is windingits way toward users.

The service pack, which rolls up hundreds of security and bug fixes,is currently available to MSDN and TechNet Plus subscribers.

It should soon be released to the general public and Microsoft updateusers, Cherry said.

The pack includes 39 security updatesand 651 bugs by his count, Cherry noted, including 56 networking issues and 133 in the base operating system.

The pack also includes some application compatability updates andimproved wireless networking support.

One surprise is that Internet Explorer 8 was notincluded as part of the service pack, Cherry remarked. It’s still a separate download.

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