Microsoft made available for download Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Release Candidate (RC) Build 6.1.7601.17105.100929-1730 and I thought I’d put together a small list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers for testers.

1. What are the languages supported with Windows 7 SP1 RC?

Just as for the Beta, Windows 7 SP1 RC is available in English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

2. When did Microsoft complete SP1 RC?

The Build number indicates that the company signed off on the bits on September 29th, 2010.

3. Who can test Build 6.1.7601.17105.100929-1730?

Windows 7 SP1 RC is a public testing release, just as the Beta development milestone was. Still, this Build is designed for users with some experience in testing pre-release software, and not for end users to run day to day.

“The RC is best suited for IT Pros, tech enthusiasts, and developers who need to test the service pack in their organization or with the software they are developing. The final release of Service Pack 1 will be available through Windows Update for consumers when it is ready,” Microsoft said.

4. Are there any pre-requirements before installing SP1 RC?

Not really. Just make sure you have Windows 7 RTM and that the operating system includes all the updates offered by Microsoft. In Windows Updates check for any refreshes you might have missed and deploy them ahead of installing the service pack.

5. I’m a Windows 7 SP1 Beta tester, what does installing SP1 RC mean for me?

Users will need to first uninstall SP1 Beta before they deploy the Release Candidate. Upgrading from Windows 7 SP1 Beta to Windows 7 SP1 RC is not supported.

6. Will upgrades be supported from Windows 7 SP1 RC to Windows 7 SP1 RTM?

Microsoft says that such upgrades will not be supported. Users will have to remove SP1 RC before they will make the jump to the final release of the service pack.

7. Is Windows 7 SP1 RC time-bombed?

Yes. Like all Microsoft pre-release software, Windows 7 SP1 RC is time-bombed and set to expire on November 30, 2011. The platform will begin to highlight the imminent expiration date as of August 30, 2011.

Windows 7 SP1 RC will expire and be treated in a manner similar to non-genuine software even if the underlying Windows 7 RTM copy is perfectly genuine. Testers will need to upgrade to the RTM version of Windows 7 SP1 in order to avoid expiration.

8. Have any new features been introduced between the Beta and RC in SP1?

No. And Microsoft will deliver no new feature for Windows 7 SP1 RTM.

9. When will Windows 7 SP1 be released to manufacturing and served to customers?

Microsoft says that users will be getting Windows 7 SP1 RTM in the first half of 2011, most likely in the first quarter. But really, the actual availability deadline is anybody’s guess.

10. Is RC the final development milestone before RTM?

Absolutely. RTM is next in terms of the Windows 7 SP1 development process.

11. Can I perform a clean install of Windows 7 SP1 RC?

No. Microsoft is not offering public slipstreamed Builds of Windows 7 SP1 RC.

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Release Candidate (RC) Build 7601.17105.100929-1730 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Release Candidate (RC) Build 7601.17105.100929-1730 are available for download here.

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