Build 7100

CNET News sister site ZDNet Australia offers a look at the upcoming release candidate of Windows 7 before Microsoft unveils the software to the public next week.

The edition of Windows 7 beta that we tested is the "Build 7100" version labeled as the release candidate that has been making the rounds and was apparently leaked earlier this week. The official release candidate of Windows 7 is due to be released to the public on May 5.

To get these screenshots, we installed Windows 7 both within a VMware virtual machine, to document Windows 7's install process, and on a Dell Optiplex 960.

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Photo by: Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia / Caption by:

Licensing window

Here is Microsoft's fairly standard licensing window.
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Custom install

You can upgrade an earlier version of Windows or install a new copy of Windows 7; we chose the custom path.
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Background

Obviously, stuff is happening in the background.
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Choose your user, computer name

You can choose your username and computer name.
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Product key

The install process asks you for your product key, though you can bypass this step, which we did.
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Local network setup

You have various options to set up your local network.
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Basic desktop

The basic desktop is quite similar to that of the beta of Windows 7, with a few tweaks such as a slight change in the graphic for the start button.
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Photo by: Renai LeMay/ZDNet Australia / Caption by:

Start menu

Shown here is the expanded Start menu.
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Control Panel

We find Windows 7's Control Panel to be much faster and more responsive than Vista's.
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Switching off features

New in the release candidate: you can switch off more Windows features, including Internet Explorer and some of the media functionality.
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Internet Explorer 8

Internet Explorer 8 is included.
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Windows Media Player

Windows Media Player is back; simple and elegant.
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Solitaire

Even solitaire looks to have received an upgrade, with a new, flashy shuffling animation.
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Media Center

Media Center functionality was included in the Ultimate copy of Windows 7 featured here.
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Devices display

There's a newer, better way of displaying devices attached to your computer, though you can still get to the old Device Manager, if you dig around.
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Desktop gadgets

Here are some desktop gadgets Microsoft has included with Windows 7. You can pull news via RSS feeds, monitor the performance of your CPU, and more.
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Disk management

Disk management is quite similar to Windows XP or Vista. This isn't an area that most computer users will get to, but this tool is useful when you're booting multiple operating systems or managing a lot of disks.
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Device Manager

Shown here: Device Manager functionality. Note that Windows 7 hasn't quite picked up all the drivers for our Dell Optiplex 960, though it is, of course, only a release candidate. We didn't install any drivers from Dell or elsewhere.
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Hidden services

We found that we got more speed out of Vista from turning a lot of hidden Windows services off, especially the SuperFetch feature. But Windows 7 is already pretty speedy, even on older Pentium 4 hardware.
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Action Center

The Action Center is now a unified center where Windows will alert you to security problems, available updates, and more. Best of all, you can turn off most of the annoying alerts, if you're a power user.
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Security controls

Windows 7 has a vast number of in-depth security controls for administrators.
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