(Almost got lost in all the excitement of today's news around HD-DVD support in Windows Vista.)

Today the IE Team shipped Internet Explorer 7 Release Candidate 1 for Windows XP SP2/x64/Server 2003 users.

Some of the enhancements you’ll find with IE7 RC1 are final changes to the CSS platform in IE7, UI fit-and-finish, and installation enhancements.

"A release candidate is fundamentally different from a beta," Dean Hachamovitch, General Manger for Internet Explorer, tells us.  [Ed: Sound familiar?]  "With the exception of a very short list of issues we’re aware of and working on, we think the product is done.  We’re looking to enthusiasts, developers and IT Pros to tell us if this build has any critical, must-fix-before-we-ship issues.  The real world is much richer than our test environment and I appreciate the feedback that has helped us make the product better."

You can view Dean’s post on RC1 of IE7 from the IEBlog, or head on over and download RC1 of IE7 here.

It's important to note that IE7 for XP SP2 is different than IE7 shipping with Windows Vista, in the sense that the IE7 that ships with Windows Vista takes advantage of several of the security improvements to the new OS itself that XP does not have -- for example, Parental Controls.