The next iteration of Windows is evolving at fast pace through the development milestones, now that it is past the Beta stage and making its way to Release Candidate. Having wrapped up Windows 7 beta Build 7000 in December 2008, with downloads made available to the general public on January 10, 2009, Microsoft is making headway with the development process, having already started building the first and only Release Candidate for the operating system. At this point in time, the Redmond company has reached number 7048 with Windows 7, the first Build labeled as RC. At the same time, leaving behind the Beta tag entirely and adopting RC instead is a move synonymous with Microsoft reportedly initiating the Release Candidate Escrow phase for Windows 7.
In mid-February 2009, at just over a month since the public availability of Windows 7 Beta Build 7000, the software giant moved the next version of the Windows client in RC Escrow, according to WinFuture, a development phase in which the focus was placed entirely on identifying show-stopping issues that could prevent the operating system from going full Release Candidate. The Escrow bug hunt was designed to identify and resolve regression problems generated by the changes made as Builds advanced in the development process.
Although Build 6.1.7048.winmain_win7rc1.090211-1625 features the label scheme designed to designate Release Candidate branch builds, fact is that Microsoft has offered no confirmation that the milestone version number will be that of the fully-fledged Windows 7 RC. At this point in time, reports indicate that the Redmond company is gearing up to make Windows 7 RC available at the end of this month, more specifically on February 27, 2008. It is unclear whether such a move would involve Windows 7 RC Escrow or the full Windows 7RC, but the software giant's closest partners as well as a limited pool of testers will be the first to get a taste of the Release Candidate builds.
The Redmond company will follow the same testing strategy as it did so far, working first off with partners, Technology Adoption Program members, then it will make Windows 7 RC available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers and subsequently via Connect to the Technical Beta participants. Eventually, Microsoft will also serve Windows 7 to the public through the Customer Preview Program.
Given the availability date of the Windows 7 Beta Build 7000, Microsoft is nothing short of rushing the development of the operating system, with the haste being indicative of the platform's quality, and not only in the Redmond company's perspective. Considering that Beta Build 7000 was actually signed off in December 2008, at which time Microsoft had already started working on Build 7004 and later from the RC-branch, the Windows 7 Release Candidate has had at least a couple of months of cooking. Still, it is important to emphasize that Microsoft has confirmed nothing on Windows 7 RC as of yet, and that all leaked information available in the wild should be taken with a grain of salt. There is nothing at this point in time indicating beyond any doubt that the end of February 2009 is also the end of the baking time for Windows 7 Release Candidate.
Update: Softpedia has been receiving feedback pointing out that Windows 7 Build 7048 is actually a fake and that Microsoft has yet to start compiling RC Builds of Windows 7. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available.