Windows XP Reaches RC2

Microsoft today announced the arrival of Windows XP Release Candidate 2, the final milestone before the upcoming operating system is released to manufacturing next month. Sporting build number 2526, RC2 is available for download from WindowsBeta, but will not be sent out on CD. The release will soon be made available to Windows Preview Program participants, but on an incremental basis in order to avoid previous problems. Ecstatic with XP's progress, the software giant proclaimed in an e-mail to testers that, "The end is in sight."

Despite its importance, very little is new in RC2. Microsoft has added an option to uninstall Internet Explorer and has removed the infamous Smart Tags, but claims the code is practically complete. "RC2 is simply a final checkpoint on the way to the final RTM. We are close to release and want to continue to get feedback, but there will be very few if any significant changes between RC2 and RTM," Windows product managers wrote in an e-mail to testers.

Microsoft recommends that testers on a slow Internet connection not bother with the release and instead continue evaluating RC1. "It’s not that different," Redmond officials confirmed.

Those who do download RC2 however, are urged to make use of the new Dynamic Update feature. This addition allows Windows setup to download the latest fixes and updates prior to installation.

RC2 builds have been issued for Home, Professional, and 64-bit editions of Windows XP. RC2 may be installed over RC1, but all other upgrade paths are unsupported. RTM is set for mid next month, with a final drop date of August 28. Windows XP will officially hit store shelves on October 25 amid a billion-dollar marketing campaign.

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