UPDATE: Windows 7 Available to TechNet, MSDN Subscribers
Subscribers to Microsoft's professional services -- TechNet and the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) -- can begin downloading Windows 7 release to manufacturing (RTM) editions starting today.
The products can be downloaded via the TechNet or MSDN Web portals (subscription and Windows Live ID required). The downloads are English-language versions of the OSes. Microsoft plans to make Windows 7 RTM available in other languages on Oct. 1.
Expect downloads as large as nearly 3GB on the client side, which is the size of the Windows 7 Enterprise edition (x64). The OS can be installed and run for up to 30 days without a product key. For those looking for Windows 7 support resources, Microsoft's Springboard Web portal is the place to find them.
The RTM represents the finished Windows 7 product. PC manufacturers previously got access to the bits about two weeks ago and are in the process of loading images of the new OS onto new machines.
For those who aren't an OEM or subscriber, Microsoft has a few other Windows 7 RTM release dates to remember.
Tomorrow (Aug. 7) is the date that Microsoft's Volume License customers with the Software Assurance option will be able to get the English-language version of Windows 7 RTM. Microsoft says that other language versions will be available "within a couple of weeks" (around Aug. 21). The product can be downloaded from the Volume License Service Center here (requires license and Windows Live ID). Software Assurance ensures that licensees can jump to the next software upgrade if it occurs within a three-year contract span.
For those who are Microsoft Volume License customers without Software Assurance, the Windows 7 RTM product will be available for purchase on Sept. 1.
The next date of note is Aug. 16, which is when members of Microsoft's Partner Program will be able to download the English-language version of Windows 7 RTM. Partners who want it in other languages have to wait until Oct. 1. Partners will be able to get the new OS via the Microsoft Partner Network Web site here.
Aug. 23 will be the day to remember for Microsoft Action Pack subscribers; that's when the English-language version of Windows 7 RTM will be available to them. Other language versions of the OS will be available on Oct. 1. The Action Pack is a collection of Microsoft software for those who want to run test implementations. You have to be a Microsoft partner to subscribe and get the Action Pack.
Finally, Windows 7 for everyone else is scheduled to be publicly available on Oct. 22. That's when people will start to see new PCs with Windows 7 in retail stores.
Microsoft has announced that it plans to open its own retail stores this fall in time for the Windows 7 general release date of Oct. 22. The first stores will be in Scottsdale, Ariz. and Mission Viejo, Calif. The Mission Viejo store will be near an Apple store in the same shopping mall.
Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM will be on a slightly later release schedule than Windows 7.
Microsoft's Windows Server blog explains that "Developers with MSDN Subscriptions will be able to download Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM in English, French, German, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish on August 14th and all remaining languages starting August 21st." The same dates apply for Microsoft TechNet subscribers, as well as Microsoft's ISV and OEM partners.
Those Microsoft Volume License customers with Software Assurance will be able to download Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM on Aug. 19. Volume License customers lacking Software Assurance must wait until Sept. 1 to get the server.
General availability of Windows Server 2008 R2 is scheduled for Sept. 14. Enthusiasts can get a 180-day trial version of the server on Aug. 20 here.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.