In the past months I’ve had my fair share of time chatting with members of the IE team, over the phone and face-to-face, but I wasn’t able to meet with John Hrvatin, Lead Program Manager on Windows Internet Explorer, as I needed to be in Berlin at TechEd Europe 2010 earlier this month.

After all, there’s a lot to talk about, especially with Microsoft getting closer and closer to finalizing Internet Explorer 9.

IE9 continues to be in Beta at this point in time, and evolving toward the Release Candidate (RC) with Platform Preview 6 and 7 released since mid-September, the last of which offered to early adopters this week.

Still, I did manage to put some questions together and John was kind enough to provide the answers via email. More »

Microsoft is extremely close to wrapping up the successor of Office 2007. The Redmond company has confirmed officially that the next iteration of its productivity suite has reached the final stage before being released to manufacturing. In this regard, Office 2010 graduated from Beta to Release Candidate, which, according to the software giant, will be the first and only RC Build offered ahead of RTM. Members of a select pool of testers have already received the Office 2010 RC bits and have started test driving the release.

There is a reason why Microsoft is not announcing the Release Candidate development milestone of Office 2010 with any fanfare. The Redmond company has planned just limited availability for Office 2010 RC. This means that
only a small group of testers close to Microsoft will receive the actual bits, at least through the company’s official channels.

“Microsoft made a release candidate available to members in the technology adoption program (TAP). This is one of Microsoft’s planned milestones in the engineering process; however they do not have plans to make this new code set available broadly,” a company spokesperson stated. More »

Firefox 3.5 Release Candidate 2 is live and is available for download. This is the development milestone of the open source browser that will be made available to the general public. Mozilla already started serving the RC of Firefox 3.5 as soon as June 16, but the availability process is not over yet.

In fact, June 19 marks the day that the final RC bits of Firefox 3.5 are going to be served to the public. Mozilla indicated that with the development of Firefox 3.5, formerly Firefox 3.1, and codenamed Shiretoko, it has changed the traditional process of wrapping up the browser.

Historically, step seven in the development evolution involved “shipping partial updates to beta-channel users and change the beta download page to point to the new development milestone,” revealed Mike Beltzner, director of Firefox at Mozilla. “So, what’s new and exciting? We’ve realized that we can run this process in a more parallel fashion by splitting step 7 into: 7.1 ship partial updates to beta-channel users; 7.2 change the beta download page to point to the new development milestone.” More »

The Windows Automated Installation Kit for Windows 7 RC has accompanied the Release Candidate development milestones of Windows 7 client and Windows Server 2008 R2. The latest release of the Windows AIK is specifically tailored to the next iterations of the Windows client and server operating systems. Microsoft is offering the kit in an effort to streamline deployment of both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. According to the Redmond company, the Windows Automated Installation Kit allows for the customization and deployment of the successors of Windows Vista and Windows server 2008.

“The Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) is a set of tools and documentation that support the configuration and deployment of Windows operating systems. By using Windows AIK, you can automate Windows installations, capture Windows images with ImageX, configure and modify images using Deployment Imaging Servicing and Management (DISM), create Windows PE images, and migrate user profiles and data with the User State Migration Tool (USMT). Windows AIK also includes the Volume Activation Management Tool (VAMT), which enables IT professionals to automate and centrally manage the volume activation process using a Multiple Activation Key (MAK),” Microsoft informed. More »

Windows 7 Release Candidate Build 7100 is now available for public download straight from Microsoft. In parallel, users can also access Windows Server 2008 R2 RC, which went live concomitantly with the client flavor of Windows 7. Together with the actual bits for Windows 7, Microsoft is also providing product keys designed to activate the operating system. The Redmond company is offering a fixed set of keys that can be used to activate an unlimited number of Windows 7 Release Candidate installations. You will be able to find the complete collection of Windows 7 activation product keys at the bottom of this article.

If you’re up for the task, you can also grab them yourselves. Just visit the official Windows 7 RC download page, scroll down, select to download the Build 7100 bits in a specific language, sign in with your Windows Live ID and get one product key. Repeat the process to grab additional items. Or simply leverage the keys offered bellow, as you can use them to activate both 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 7. Windows Server 2008 R2 RC is available for download here, along with the product keys. More »