Windows 7 Release Candidate debuts early

The software, expected to be released broadly on Tuesday, arrives just ahead of that time on Microsoft's Web site.

SOMEWHERE OVER COLORADO--As I wend my way back to San Francisco, the release candidate of Windows 7 has made its public debut.

After arriving first on torrent sites and then last week showing up on Microsoft's developer program Web sites, the operating system arrived on the main Microsoft.com late on Monday night. The software was slated to be made publicly available on Tuesday.

The release candidate version, officially build 7100, is expected to be the last major public test of the product before it is finalized. The company will only officially confirm it plans to release Windows 7 before Windows Vista hits its third anniversary of broad availability in January. However, the software maker is widely seen as aiming to finish it soon enough for it to be on PCs that ship during this year's holiday shopping season.

When it hit the MSDN and TechNet sites last week, Microsoft faced a crush of demand and encountered glitches. We'll try to keep track of how things go this time around. Let us know if it works for you. (Add your rating to Download.com)

A Microsoft representative was not immediately available for comment.

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