This morning we released our first public release candidate, IE7 RC1, for Windows XP. You can download it at http://www.microsoft.com/ie.
The RC1 build includes improvements in performance, stability, security, and application compatibility. You may not notice many visible changes from the Beta 3 release; all we did was listen to your feedback, fix bugs that you reported, and make final adjustments to our CSS support. I do want to call attention to two changes in particular.
First, IE7 RC1 setup automatically detects and uninstalls previous IE7 betas before trying to install IE7 so you don’t have to. We’ll post more detail on the install/uninstall process very soon.
Second, IE7 RC1 will automatically detect add-ons with known stability or compatibility problems so that end users can easily get a newer version or temporarily turn the add-on off. The most common cause of the “IE7 installed but won’t run” problem reports we’ve gotten was old versions of some toolbars. We’ve worked closely with toolbar vendors to make this experience better. Again, we’ll post more detail on this topic here very soon.
A release candidate is fundamentally different from a beta. With the exception of a very short list of issues we’re aware of and working on, we think the product is done. We’re looking to enthusiasts, developers, and IT Pros to tell us if this build has any critical, must-fix before we ship issues. The real world is much richer than our test environment and I appreciate the feedback that has helped us make the product better.
The English RC1 release will be followed by localized versions in mid-September. We’ll continue with Arabic, Finnish, German, and Japanese as before but also add French and Spanish versions with this release. Web sites and applications that are compatible with this RC1 build should be compatible with the final version of IE7 when we release it later this year. (If you’re a developer or IT Pro, I strongly recommend using our Readiness Toolkit and Application Compatibility Toolkit.)
Depending on your feedback, we may post another release candidate. We’re still on track to ship the final IE7 release in the 4th calendar quarter.
p.s. I’ll repeat some information from previous posts for the sake of completeness. IE7 Release Candidate 1 runs on Windows XP SP2, Windows XP x64, and Windows Server 2003 SP1. This release does not install on Windows Vista; a new version of IE7 in Windows Vista will be available with the next public Windows Vista release soon. IE7 still replaces IE6; if you’re a developer and need to have both IE6 and IE7 on a single machine, I recommend Microsoft Virtual PC available now for free.