Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

Windows 7: Next Stop, Release Candidate

Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky has taken some time to outline what happens from here to GA with Windows 7. As MJ, Paul Thurrott, and others have notes, the release did not say Windows 7 Beta 1, it was just a beta. It’s a good post, but I’ve pulled the key takeaways below:

The next milestone for the development of Windows 7 is the Release Candidate or “RC”. Historically the Release Candidate has signaled “we’re pretty close and we want people to start testing the release, especially because all the features are done.” As we have said before, with Windows 7 we chose a slightly different approach which we were clear up front about and are all now experiencing together and out in the open.

Of course the other work we’re doing is refining the final product based on all the real-world usage and feedback. We’ve received a lot of verbatim feedback regarding the user experience—whether that is default settings, keyboard shortcuts, or desired options to name a few things. Needless to say just working through, structuring, and “tallying” this feedback is a massive undertaking and we have folks dedicated to doing just that. At the peak we were receiving one “Send Feedback” note every 15 seconds! As we’ve talked about in this blog, we receive a lot of feedback where we must weigh the opinions we receive because we hear from all sides of an issue—that’s to be expected and really the core design challenge. We also receive feedback where we thought something was straight forward or would work fine, but in practice needed some tuning and refinement. Over the next weeks we’ll be blogging about some of these specific changes to the product. These changes are part of the process and part of the time we have scheduled between Beta and RC.

So right now, every day we are researching issues, resolving them, and making sure those resolutions did not cause regressions (in performance, behavior, compatibility, or reliability). The path to Release Candidate is all about getting the product to a known and shippable state both from an internal and external (Beta usage and partner ecosystem readiness) standpoint.

We will then provide the Release Candidate as a refresh for the Beta. We expect, based on our experience with the Beta, a broad set of folks to be pretty interested in trying it out.

There’s one extra step which is what we call General Availability or GA. This step is really the time it takes literally to “fill the channel” with Windows PCs that are pre-loaded with Windows 7 and stock the stores (online or in-person) with software. We know many folks would like us to make the RTM software available right away for download, but this release will follow our more established pattern. GA also allows us time to complete the localization and ready Windows for a truly worldwide delivery in a relatively small window of time, a smaller window for Windows 7 than any previous release. It is worth noting that the Release Candidate will continue to function long enough so no one should worry and everyone should feel free to keep running the Release Candidate.

So to summarize briefly:

  • Pre-Beta – This release at the PDC introduced the developer community to Windows 7 and represents the platform complete release and disclosure of the features.
  • Beta – This release provided a couple of million folks the opportunity to use feature complete Windows 7 while also providing the telemetry and feedback necessary for us to validate the quality, reliability, compatibility, and experience of Windows 7. As we said, we are working with our partners across the ecosystem to make sure that testing and validation and development of Windows 7-based products begins to enter final phases as we move through the Beta.
  • Release Candidate (RC) – This release will be Windows 7 as we intend to ship it. We will continue to listen to feedback and telemetry with the focus on addressing only the most critical issues that arise. We will be very clear in communicating any changes that have a visible impact on the product. This release allows the whole ecosystem to reach a known state together and make sure that we are all ready together for the Release to Manufacturing. Once we get to RC, the whole ecosystem is in “dress rehearsal” mode for the next steps.
  • Release to Manufacturing (RTM) – This release is the final Windows 7 as we intend to make available to PC makers and for retail and volume license products.
  • General Availability (GA) – This is a business milestone and represents when you can buy Windows 7 pre-installed on PCs or as full packaged product.

The obvious question is that we know the Pre-Beta was October 28, 2008, and the Beta was January 7th, so when is the Release Candidate and RTM? The answer is forthcoming. We are currently evaluating the feedback and telemetry and working to develop a robust schedule that gets us the right level of quality in a predictable manner. Believe me, we know many people want to know more specifics. We’re on a good path and we’re making progress. We are taking a quality-based approach to completing the product and won’t be driven by imposed deadlines. We have internal metrics and milestones and our partners continue to get builds routinely so even when we reach RC, we are doing so together as partners. And it relies, rather significantly, on all of you testing the Beta and our partners who are helping us get to the finish line together.

There you have it. The next build you will get will probably be the RC. And for once, it will actually be a candidate for release. Sweet!

Posted on Jan 30 2009, 01:13 PM by Robert McLaws
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  • Neil said:

    I like everyone was looking forward to downloading the RC (if available) BUT...... what about this UAC problem, this will surely dampen everyones arder for wanting Win 7. I still want it, but it makes me worry.

    Microsoft had already known about the problem but closed off submissions about it saying it was "BY DESIGN".

    To the normal user this statement is far, far from good enough, microsoft must be "SEEN" to have done something about it so as to alay any fears about it.

    January 30, 2009 10:39 PM
  • Jonathan said:

    Neil, if you are referring to the UAC security flaw with VBScript, I am more than confident that MS will fix this leak by RC since because of the negative hype around it. When Win7 comes out, it will be more secure than Vista... there is just so much more patching and leaks fixed.

    February 4, 2009 12:09 AM
  • Neil said:

    I truly hope so ! As I do not wish Win 7 to go down the same road as Vista in the popularity stakes.

    February 4, 2009 4:01 PM
  • Neil said:

    The internet community is now starting to believe anything that comes onto the various blogs at the moment regarding Windows 7, it seems akin to a starving dog ... it will eat anything it is given !

    The latest example of this is the latest "news" on saying that the release date for Windows 7 is April 10.

    Their source for this news story ...Ars Technica..... one big problem though.... Ars Technica are crediting Neowin for the date !!!!!

    This is how bad things have become when one blog credits the other and visa versa for no story at all !

    February 20, 2009 9:25 PM
  • Not a day goes by without yet another article extolling the virtues of the Internet. An estimated 30 million worldwide users to date and more logging on every day. To the small business owner, the real question is, Where does the hype end and the reality

    June 13, 2009 12:10 AM
  • Windows 7: Next Stop, Release Candidate - Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

    September 14, 2014 10:20 PM