Right on schedule Thursday morning, what can probably be described as the "latest final edition" of Build 7600 of Windows 7 was made available to subscribers to Microsoft's MSDN and TechNet services for developers and admins. This will enable them to begin the process of finalizing upgrades to applications and to the systems using them, prior to the general availability date for the operating system, which remains set for October 22.
Absent from this morning's distribution, though not surprisingly, was any hint of "Windows 7 E," the browserless build of the OS that had been slated for distribution exclusively in Europe in the event that the European Commission had not reached a decision on the company's browser selection proposal. Last month, Microsoft presented a formal proposal to the EC that modeled a Web-based selection system for installing default browsers, one which presented Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Opera alongside Internet Explorer 8, in a menu that all European Windows users would see -- not just those with Windows 7.
With many European legislators enjoying a summer recess, there's concern they may not return to their offices in time to fully deliberate the proposal in time for Microsoft to shift gears and implement it before October 22. In light of that new fact, Microsoft changed its mind about Windows 7 E just last week, opting instead to ship Windows 7 with IE8 in the interim, and taking a risk that the EC would frown on that move.
For that reason, perhaps among others, admins will not yet be able to test the efficiency of the proposed European browser ballot system, the development of which may not even be complete. Such a system itself requires a Web browser, although Microsoft's proposal promises that Windows 7 installers in Europe will be presented with the ballot in such a way that does not suggest a preference toward IE8. That probably means the identity of IE8 will have to be effectively masked from the user; and also that the setup routine will need to uninstall IE8 should the user choose a different browser.
There may be an unusually high usage of the CHKDSK utility among testers today, in the wake of yesterday's discovery of an apparent memory leak in an RTM build caused when making repairs to hard disk index files. The cause of the leak has not been absolutely determined to be Windows 7 itself; there is an outstanding theory that non-finalized chipset drivers from the Vista era may be to blame. If the leak is confirmed, however, the likely remedy will be a hotfix distributed via Windows Update that will appear on users' systems immediately after installation.
Testers believing some of the hyperbole spread yesterday were under the belief that Microsoft may suspend today's MSDN release as a result of the CHKDSK leak; and some bloggers were actually reporting that Microsoft had already done so.