It seems that Microsoft is going to make the first and probably only Release Candidate of Windows 7 available soon to testers. Our sources confirmed that the first RC builds have been compiled.
According to information Winfuture.de got from Microsoft-near sources, the so-called “Escrow phase” for RC1 has been started yesterday, 16 February. During this period the development is interrupted, to allow the product developers and beta testers to find potential bugs that could intervene a broad distribution.
We don’t know what build number has been tested. However, earlier this morning, build 7048, one of the first RC builds, had been reported to be in test phase. The available information confirm that the work on the release candidate takes place rather fast.
Thus, Windows 7 RC1 might be available for MSDN/TechNet subscribers from 27 February 2009 onwards already. At the same time, the Windows 7 RC1 will also be made available for download for the participants of the Technical Beta phase on Microsoft Connect. The wholesale TAP (Technology Adopters Program) participants are likely to get it even a bit earlier.
Update: The Windows 7 RC1 Build string appears to be “7048.winmain_win7rc1.090211-1625”, showing a Windows 7 RC1 Build 7048, compiled on 11 February 2009.