Confirmed: Windows 7 RC to the public on May 5

Leaving not much time for folks to stew in the rumors over the latest "leaked" builds (plural) numbered 7100 of the Windows 7 release candidate -- one of which may have been legitimate -- Microsoft decided late Friday night to officially confirm that May 5 is the official public release date for the Win7 RC.

"I'm pleased to share that the RC is on track for April 30th for download by MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Broader, public availability will begin on May 5th," wrote Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc in a corporate blog post late yesterday.

News of the public release comes as disseminators of the real Build 7100 discovered the existence of a virtualization envelope that may enable at least the Ultimate SKU of Windows 7 to run applications meant for older versions of Windows. This may be how the company executes its transition plan to a fully 64-bit platform.

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