Microsoft has released the finalised, release-to-manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows 7 to some IT professionals, hardware manufacturers and software developers ahead of the operating system's public launch in October.
The software is available to developers via the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and to IT professionals via the TechNet programme. Windows 7 RTM was made available in English on Thursday, with other language versions to be released on 1 October, according to the company.
Microsoft also released the RTM version of the Windows API Code Pack for .Net Framework and the Windows 7 SDK, which developers can use to update their applications and to test them for Windows 7 compatibility.
The Windows 7 Training Kit for Developers has been updated for the RTM release with six new application compatibility labs, according to Microsoft. The kit is a package of presentations, hands-on labs and demonstrations designed as a primer for Windows 7 application development.
The next Microsoft customers to get Windows 7 are volume licensing businesses with Software Assurance subscriptions, who can download it from Friday.
The software will be released to gold or certified members of Microsoft's Partner Programme on 16 August, with action pack subscribers getting access on 23 August. Volume licensing customers without Software Assurance will get Windows 7 on 1 September, with the full public launch on 22 October.
The wait for Windows 7 probably added to a decline in UK sales of business PCs in the second quarter, Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal said on Thursday.
He said some businesses have held back from upgrading to Windows Vista and are planning to move directly from XP to Windows 7, which could lead to a rise in software sales this autum.
"Those organisations now have a clear goal that they will migrate from XP to Windows 7 with new PCs," he said. "Normally [when you upgrade PCs and operating systems], you do it with a phased approach. We are more likely in 2010 to see a forklift upgrade, where they would have to migrate all or most of an organisation to the next OS [at once]."
UK sales of professional desktop and mobile PCs fell in the second quarter by more than 25 percent, compared with the same period last year, according to Gartner.