Now with the Windows 7 RC here, many of us are more confident than ever to run it as our primary OS – despite Microsoft telling us not to. The fact is that Windows 7 RC as it is feels like a complete OS, which gives Microsoft the confidence to commit to a release sometime this year.
So the next big step for Windows 7 is hitting the final release code that gets sent out to OEMs – release to manufacturing (RTM). The Windows 7 team has blogged about what the next steps are before we’ll be seeing the new OS shipping on new PCs as well as boxed copies on the shelves.
“The path to RTM starts with downloads of the RC. The RC is ‘done’ and what we are doing is validating this against the breadth of the ecosystem and with partners,” wrote the software engineering team. “The primary difference with the RC is that we will not be changing the functionality or features of the product at this point—that’s the sort of thing we’ll save for a future release.”
Basically, the RC is feature complete and now all Microsoft is doing is collecting data from its now massive pool of testers to see where it can smooth things out for more systems.
“We are primarily focused on monitoring the behavior of the product through the telemetry, and of course making sure we did not introduce any regressions in any dimension from Beta quality,” the blog continued. “One of the things we have done since Beta has continued to beef up telemetry—we’ve put in additional monitoring points in many systems. We’re particularly interested in seeing what devices are installed, drivers that are required, and overall system performance.”
All users of the Windows 7 RC right now are contributing to Microsoft’s data sets with reports regarding their usage (private and anonymous). In the final shipping version of the OS, the sending of telemetry data of Microsoft is optional.
Those using the RC right now and having a good experience likely won’t see much change in the final shipping version. Between now and the final release, Microsoft said that it is looking mainly to improve in the following areas:
- Security issues
- Crashes and Hangs
- Device installation and compatibility
- New Hardware
“Delivering the highest quality Windows 7 is the most important criteria for us at this point—quality in every dimension. The RTM process is designed to be deliberate and maintain the overall engineering integrity of the system. Many are pushing us to release the product sooner rather than later, but our focus remains on a high quality release,” wrote Microsoft. “Ultimately our partners will determine when their PCs are available in market. If the feedback and telemetry on Windows 7 match our expectations then we will enter the final phases of the RTM process in about 3 months. If we are successful in that, then we tracking to our shared goal of having PCs with Windows 7 available this Holiday season.”