In response to rumours that the company was about to declare "release to manufacturing," or RTM, of the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, Microsoft last night denied that it has finished the OS and said it would go to the RTM stage as planned later this month.
"We are close, but have not yet signed off on Windows 7," said company spokesman Brandon LeBlanc on the Windows blog Monday night. "As previously stated, we expect Windows 7 to RTM in the 2nd half of July."
LeBlanc echoed a comment made by Bill Veghte, Microsoft's senior vice president for Windows business, in a presentation at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) earlier today. Although Veghte did not reference last week's reports that claimed RTM was imminent, he did say that Windows 7 would wrap up in the last two weeks of this month.
LeBlanc cautioned users against modifying the "cversion.ini" file, in-progress builds that have leaked to file-sharing sites. "There are many bogus copies of Windows 7 floating around the Internet. More often than not, they contain a rather nice malware payload," he said.
In May, people who downloaded pirated copies of Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) just hours before Microsoft released the preview reported that the build was infected with a Trojan horse.
LeBlanc also provided a few details, albeit at times vague, about when users will get their hands on Windows 7 after Microsoft does declare the code finished.
TechNet and MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) subscribers, who in the past have gotten RTM builds almost immediately, will be able to download Windows 7 from their respective services "a few weeks after we announce RTM," LeBlanc said.
The delay may prompt resistance. When Microsoft initially withheld Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) from TechNet and MSDN subscribers in early 2008, they rebelled, calling the decision "boneheaded" and "the lamest since Microsoft Bob," the latter a reference to a ridiculed interface that debuted in 1995.
As Veghte noted Monday morning at WPC, Sept. 1 is the date when Windows 7 will be available to volume licensing customers. All others, including consumers and businesses without a licensing plan, will have to wait until the Oct. 22 launch date, excepting any trafficking at file-sharing sites.
In an aside, LeBlanc repeated a warning Microsoft first issued in early April, that users running Windows 7 RC must do a "custom" install when, or if, they move to the final product. "Note that 'in-place' (or direct) upgrades from the Windows 7 RC to RTM will not be supported," LeBlanc said. "You will be required to do a Custom installation (aka 'clean install').
A custom, or clean, install requires users to back up or transfer data and settings to an external drive or flash drive, install Windows 7 RTM - which effectively overwrites the hard drive - then restore their data, recreate settings throughout Windows and reinstall all applications.
It's unclear whether users will be able to sidestep the custom install and instead do an in-place by modifying the "cversion.ini" file, as they were able to do when they upgraded from beta to RC.
According to LeBlanc, Microsoft will break the news of reaching RTM, whenever that is, by posting to the Windows blog. "When Windows 7 hits RTM, it will be announced here," he promised.