Mark your calendars. After quietly letting slip the date last week, Microsoft has made it official: the first Windows 7 release candidate will become available to the public on May 5. Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc broke the news on the Windows 7 Team Blog, where he added that MSDN and TechNet subscribers can expect the RC on April 30, ahead of the public launch.
So, what's on the menu for this latest pre-release version? LeBlanc says highlights include the taskbar, Aero Peek, touch functionality, and Windows Media Player, which should all see improvements and additions. You can probably look forward to many bug fixes, too. Microsoft supposedly got a new user report "every 15 seconds for an entire week" during the busiest part of the feedback cycle.
Other Microsoft staffers already detailed changes in much more depth (and with screenshots) in two previous blog posts: Some Changes Since Beta for the RC in February and A few more changes from Beta to RC... in March. One of the posts even notes that the Windows 7 RC will include .mov video support.
LeBlanc's latest post doesn't talk about availability limits, either. Before releasing the beta in early January, Microsoft intended to issue only 2.5 million keys. Heavy demand (not to mention some release-day technical hijinks) eventually led Microsoft to scrap the quota and allow downloads all the way until February 10. Perhaps public testers could face a similar time limit with the RC.