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After many weeks of speculation, Microsoft finally confirms that Windows 7 has finally achieved RTM (released to manufacturing) status and they will no longer be changing the OS (producing updated builds, in technospeek) from now until October 22nd when it will be officially available in stores around the world. This means the code is finally ‘set’ in place and no updates will happen until after GA, when they will then start to release patches for it when inevitably hackers discover flaws in the OS that needs to be fixed.

Windows 7

Ever since Windows 7 Beta leaked out, people have sung praises for the OS, citing its speedy interface and stability as a welcome change to Vista’s problems. This was then succeeded by a wildly successful Windows 7 RC1 release, which gave tech enthusiasts around the world a chance to download and try out a Release Candidate, which simply means giving us a peek into the world of Windows 7 without having to spend a single cent. The RC generated a lot of positive feedback and no doubt helped propel Windows 7 into the almost mythic status of being the panacea to absolve Microsoft of the messy negative vibe of Windows Vista.

Nonetheless, the RC had its own bugs here and there, one of which I encountered is very poor Java compatibility turning my system to a complete crawl if I leave it on for too long. However, since RC1, there have been many builds released by Microsoft as they try to catch a July deadline where they will release the code to manufacturing.

This is done because OEM computer builders like Dell and Acer will have time to install the operating system into their tens of thousands of computers they will inevitably sell. Releasing the OS to big companies like these allow them some breathing space to tweak their systems and make sure Windows 7 is running with the best experience possible for customers.

And so Microsoft has finally announced Windows 7’s RTM status today, with the code to be released in the next few days to manufacturers around the world. Expect pirates to leak a copy of the RTM code soon, although Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) people have said that build 16385 is the RTM version and you can already download it from torrent sites all over the web. However, there may be some slight changes here and there, so it’s probably wiser to just wait for the ‘officially leaked’ RTM version which will appear on file sharing sites anytime now.

However, there will probably be some problems with trying to activate these RTM versions of Windows illegally. First of all, it is quite obvious that if you were to get your hands on a leaked RTM copy and activate it, Microsoft would immediately know you are a pirate simply because Windows 7 is not supposed to be in the hands of the general public until October. Can you say ‘kill switch‘?. Secondly, there are no known ways of cracking the activation sequence currently, and pirates have so far only tried the ‘rearm’ trick to extend your grace activation period for 30 days when it expires.

Anyway, enjoy the news and expect to hear the OS hacked before long. After all, Windows 7 is based on Vista, and I think vistaloader can easily be adapted to activate Microsoft’s latest OS.