Like I did with Windows Vista almost three years ago (btw, i can't believe how quickly the time has gone), in the past few days I have been trialling out the Release Candidate of the upcoming Windows 7.
For those not in the know, a 'Release Candidate' is basically just that: more advanced in the development lifecycle than a beta, and ideally it is a candidate for the final release, pending any bugs or features that have yet to be fixed or included.
Like last time I heard 'Enough talking, show us some screenshots!', so like last time below are a few selected thumbnails, you can see the full screenshots here (as with the Vista Beta a few years ago, because it's running in a virtual machine, the interface of the OS is without a lot of the fancy enhancements, e.g transparency etc.).
My views on the RC: it's a very polished version of the OS, it looks like it's nearly feature-complete. The biggest positive for me over Vista is the UAC implementation. In installing and customising the it, i didn't get one annoying Vista-style UAC prompt, which is really great (providing that the UAC-implementation is actually protecting the operating system in the background).
A lot of other Vista-quirks have been rectified too: the most obvious for me was the inclusion of 'Shut Down' by default on the start menu, rather than the 'sleep' in Vista. Another big winner for me is the 'jump lists' in right-clicking on a taskbar item, i can see that one being very useful. The OS is also very lean: a lot of the normal included MS programs (eg Movie Maker, Photo Gallery) aren't included and you'll have to download them separately for free if you want them.
The main annoyance for me is the new taskbar design and implementation. I've got to say that I really don't like it, and as you can probably tell by the screenshots i've basically customised it back to the way I like it, especially regarding the quick-launch stuff. The tray area (bottom right) is also very drab and devoid of colour. I don't mind them trying new stuff to make it more user friendly as long as it lets me change it to what I find logical :).
Other than that, Windows 7 seems very much like "Vista: take 2", and it seems like a logical progression for Microsoft to get rid of the bad publicity that Vista's gotten and encourage people to move on from XP.
Anywho, give it a try if you want, it's freely available from Microsoft for the time being (the RC installations will expire in June 2010, which is a very generous amount of time).