According to a page posted on Microsoft's partner program site, Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) may be available to paying subscribers to Microsoft's developer and IT services before May 5. Partners will be allowed to download the release candidate on that date, the first Tuesday of the month.
"Partners: If you have a subscription to MSDN or TechNet, you can download Windows 7 RC now," the page read Saturday afternoon. "Otherwise, you can download Windows 7 RC starting May 5, 2009." The link to the download, however, shunted users to the TechNet download page, which did not list Windows 7 RC as one of the available files.
This is the second time in just over three weeks that Microsoft's Web site has leaked information about Windows 7 RC. In late March, Microsoft published a page that said it would launch a public release candidate sometime in May, but did not specify a date. Microsoft later yanked the page.
The partner program page that appeared today did not mention a roll-out date for the general public. Traditionally, Microsoft makes previews available to subscribers of MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) and TechNet several days to several weeks before it offers them to the public. Last January, for instance, MSDN and TechNet subscribers could download the Windows 7 beta on Jan. 7, a Wednesday; the public beta was to hit the company's download site Friday, Jan. 9, but the rush overloaded Microsoft's servers, forcing it to restart the process on Saturday, Jan. 10.
Microsoft officials were not immediately available on Saturday to respond to questions about the May 5 date, and the release date for Windows 7 RC to the general public.
Windows enthusiast site Neowin.net was the first to report the May 5 leak.