That is what has been blazed across the Internet and through social media sites like Twitter and Friendfeed over the last few days.
In fact – my first response was to reply that everyone had it wrong – in fact it took me two 140 characters tweets to say it:
It wasn’t until a day or so later as I continued to see the big name blogs and websites start to talk about this that I went and did a little more research. Specifically I reviewed the Windows 7 Release Candidate End User License Agreement – otherwise known as the EULA. My goal was to find the entry in it that reflected by tweeted beliefs that the RC of Windows 7 was no longer licensed for use once the OS Released to Manufacturing (RTM). I knew this was the case on a previous beta I had been involved in so I assumed that it would be the same with Windows 7.
I could not have been farther from correct on this one had I taken a cross country bus ride.
No where in the EULA for Windows 7 Release Candidate does it mention the requirement to cease use of the RC when Windows 7 RTM’s. I scanned it from top to bottom – absolutely ZERO about those usage rights. I was amazed and that got me on a path to thinking – why would Microsoft do this?
I think it is an enticement to draw in users – I always look for a free version of my software before I start thinking about buying it – don’t you? Now I am not hear to say that Windows 7 should be free – but get users a 12 month window (no pun intended) to use your OS – which by the way is very stable at this stage in its development – and then offer them a very reliable, inexpensive option to upgrade to RTM from their RC installation.
See that RC install will have had been in use for almost a year and every little area will be tweaked in and setup exactly to the users liking. Of course they could always wipe that install out prior to the Windows 7 RC expiration and go back to their Windows XP, OS X or whatever distribution of Linux they are using.
In the long run I think this will build on the positive momentum that Windows 7 is gaining through the user base – even from some Mac users – and really turn Windows 7 into what I believe will be seen as the same thing that Windows XP was to Windows Me – a better, faster version of Windows than its predecessor.