Microsoft yesterday detailed how its partners and business customers can get their hands on Windows 7 RTM (release to manufacturing) code, which will be available next month on different days for different sets of users.
The company also confirmed in an entry on The Windows Blog that it would release a rumoured "family pack" of the Windows 7 Home Premium edition of the OS for households with multiple PCs, allowing for installation of the software on as many as three PCs. Microsoft did not give details on pricing of the pack, however, saying that would be available later.
ISV (independent software vendor) and IHV (independent hardware vendor) partners and developers with MSDN subscriptions will be able to download Windows 7 RTM from Microsoft Connect or MSDN on August 6. Microsoft Partner Program Gold/Certified Members will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English through the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) Portal starting on August 16, according to the blog entry. However, the RTM code in other languages won't be available to partner program members to download until October 1.
Microsoft Action Pack Subscribers will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English starting August 23, with the remaining languages for them also available for release by October 1.
OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) will receive Windows 7 RTM software images beginning about two days after the code is officially released to manufacturing, as Microsoft requires time to release and distribute these images, the company said. The time should allow them to prepare images and ship Windows 7 PCs in time for the October 22 general release, according to Microsoft.
Business customers who are also volume-licence customers with existing licences for Software Assurance (SA), Microsoft's upgrade program, can download Windows 7 RTM in English starting August 7 via the Volume License Service Center (VLSC). The rest of the languages will be available two weeks after that, Microsoft said.
Volume Licence customers without an SA licence will be able to purchase Windows 7 through Volume Licensing on September 1, as Microsoft announced at its Worldwide Partner Conference last week.
See also: Windows 7 review
Microsoft IT Professionals have several options for acquiring Windows 7 RTM. Like ISVs, IHVs and developers, TechNet subscribers can download the English edition on August 6 and remaining languages by October 1. IT Professionals with volume-licensing contracts can download Windows 7 RTM code at the same time as other volume-licensing customers, Microsoft said.
Beta testers who subscribe to TechNet can receive Windows 7 RTM the same way other subscribers can; however, testers who are not subscribers can continue to use the release candidate of Windows 7 that is now available until March 1, 2010, though they will still have to wait until the worldwide general availability of the OS on October 22 to get the final code.
Microsoft also plans to release an evaluation of Windows 7 Professional for IT Professionals via its Springboard Series program shortly after the August RTM. More than 40 percent of beta testers are IT Professionals and can get the code this way, according to Microsoft.
Have your say in the Windows 7 forum
People also can continue to pre-order Windows 7 through various online retailers, including the Microsoft Store, though the company's early discount for the OS, which was nearly 50 percent off the regular price, has expired.
Windows 7 is the follow-up to the disappointing Windows Vista release, which was widely panned by users and skipped by many business customers.