Unless you’ve been hiding in a cave this past year you probably know that today is the official market launch of Windows 7.  While Windows 7 has been available to commercial customers since July, this milestone marks the point where the final release is now available to the general public through retail purchase or preloaded on new PCs.

It has been quite a journey—from the first beta release in January, the Release Candidate (RC) in May through the final RTM in July, IT professionals have played in instrumental role in helping make Windows 7 the best performing, most reliable and most secure Windows operating system ever.  Thank you for all of your feedback, suggestions for improvement, and support during the development process!  If you haven’t downloaded the 90 day evaluation release, you can find it here.

We hope most of you are taking the steps to prepare for adopting Windows 7 into your environment—assessing your hardware, testing your applications, and learning about the new deployment tools.  You can find helpful guidance and resources on the Springboard Series on Technet, including our recent article on the “Five Steps to Application Compatibility Readiness.”  Take a look at the Windows 7 tab, and browse through the “Discover & Explore,” “Pilot & Deploy” and “Management” sections.  In addition, you’ll find great technical drill-downs in the “Top Task” zones down the left-hand side of the site.  Finally, be sure to visit www.talkingaboutwindows.com to hear back stories from the engineers responsible for Windows 7 development, join in the conversation with other IT professionals working to adopt Windows 7, and find local events where you can join your peers and learn more about how Windows 7 can help you streamline client management.

We also understand that as an IT professional, you are often expected to offer voluntary IT services to your friends and family – which can be painful and a little thankless to say the least!  So to help you get ahead of those time consuming requests, we thought we would point out how Windows 7 will help people avoid problems and quickly remedy issues without expert intervention—um, yours to be specific.  Check out this month’s feature article, “Why You Want Friends and Family on Windows 7” for a walk through of the new features and other capabilities will help keep users PCs healthy and productive and make it easier to resolve any issues that arise.  You can find more helpful information about home use of Windows 7 in the “IT Pro at Home” zone.

We want to take a moment and thank all of you who tested the Beta and the Release Candidates. We could not have made this great product without you. We also hope that you’ll join in the community

Thank you

Stephen Rose – Sr Community Manager