Mark your calendars: Windows 7 RC to go public on May 5

Oops, Microsoft did it again. Someone in Redmond accidentally published a page offering downloads of the Windows 7 release candidate to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. That appears to be a slip-up, but the page also confirms the date when the Windows 7 release candidate will be publicly available.

Oops, Microsoft did it again.

Someone in Redmond accidentally published a page offering downloads of the Windows 7 release candidate to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Here's the text that appears in the middle of that page at the Microsoft OEM Partner site:

The link goes to the Windows 7 download page at MSDN, where the only software available today is the Windows 7 beta release (build 7000) from January, along with some updates intended for that beta.

Based on this unintentional announcement, the May 5 date appears to be a solid bet for the public release. (In fact, it appears to be a more specific schedule than last month's now-you-see-it-now-you-don't download announcement.) If past patterns hold true, the actual head start for MSDN and TechNet subscribers will be a week or so ahead of that date.

Update: Emil Protalinski at Ars Technica confirms that the download is not imminent:

A few faithful readers got this quote from the Microsoft Online Concierge Chat: "Currently the Windows 7 RC has not been avaiable through the TechNet subscription yet, only the Microsoft OEM partners such as Dell, Siemens are taking part in the RC's this period of test."

That matches what I've been told from other sources as well.

Update: Several unconfirmed newsgroup posts report that Microsoft Gold Partners who are part of the Technical Adoption Program (TAP) have download access to the release candidate now. 

Update 3: As of approximately 9PM Pacific time, the Microsoft partner page has been updated and no longer contanis a download link.