SAN JOSE, Calif. Microsoft Corp. has made a version of the next-generation of its Windows operating system available to a limited set of professional developers. Windows 7 Release Candidate can be downloaded by subscribers to the company's MSDN and TechNet services. A broader release will be available online on May 5.
Microsoft gave its first public look at Windows 7 in a conference last fall.
The new version includes a handful of features made popular elsewhere but new to Windows. For example, it includes an ability to securely stream media from a home server to a remote Windows 7 system, similar to the capability pioneered by Sling Media.
Windows 7 also includes a multi-touch capability popularized by the Apple iPhone that is expected to be widely used in portable systems including notebooks, tablet PCs and netbooks. The multi-touch interface will be at the core of the Win7 user experience, Microsoft said, and in the new software release supports an ability to select, drag and drop items inside Web sites.
The new version also provides enhancements aimed to ease navigation and search including updates top the Windows taskbar. Example screen shots of Windows 7 are available online. In addition, premium versions of the new operating system will support running multiple virtual Windows XP sessions.
Microsoft's latest browser, Internet Explorer 8, will sport a new capability under Windows 7 to host secure sessions. The feature prevents browsing history, temporary Internet files, cookies, and user names and passwords from being retained by the browser.
Windows 7 still supports 32-bit processors. Minimum system requirements for the software include a GHz-level 32-but processor with a Gbyte of system memory and 16 Gbytes of available disk space or 64-bit x86 processor with 2 Gbytes RAM and 20 Gbytes of disk storage.
A Windows 7 system must also contain a graphics chip supporting the Microsoft DirectX 9 applications programming interface and the Windows Display Driver Model 1.0.