So last we heard Windows 7 would be officially hitting RTM status some time this month
, but as to when we'd be able to get our hands on it, turns out that's a very tricky question. According to the official Windows blog, OEMs will be able to get it approximately two days after the OS goes RTM, and beta testers who are already subscribed to TechNet can download RTM shortly after it happens for free. Independent software and hardware vendors can download via Microsoft Connect / MSDN on August 6th. Same goes for MSDN-subscribed developers and IT Professionals with a TechNet account, but only the English language version. Microsoft Partner Program Gold / Certified members can join the fun August 16th via Microsoft Partner Network portal on the 16th, and Action Pack Subscribers on August 23rd -- both also English only. All other language versions for those groups are due out by October 1st.
Finally, if you don't happen to fall in any of those categories, Microsoft is happy to remind you that Release Candidate
doesn't start giving the annoying reboots until March 1st, 2010, with full expiration happening June 1st -- plenty of time to avoid picking up a copy if you didn't get a chance to pre-order at the much more reasonable discount price