Microsoft makes a near final version of the highly anticipated Windows 7 OS available to the general public.

Windows 7 RC or “Release Candidate” is available as a free download from the MS Windows Web site. Just last week, Microsoft began offering Windows 7 RC to professional users who belong to its TechNet and MSDN communitiy websites.

Most of the features of Windows 7 RC will be included in the final version of the OS. Some of these features include support for touchscreen interfaces, compatibility with hardware and software from major vendors through the beta trial program.

The free downloadable version of Windows 7 RC will function until June 1, 2010. After that time users will need to purchase a full license to continue its use. Microsoft is counting on the new Windows 7 OS to help it recover from the poor market response that Vista received .

Rumors have been heard that a September release date for a final version is planned.