While Microsoft's Windows 7 will go on sale in just about two months, there is still a little time to get a free copy of the operating system.

Well, at least a free test copy of Windows 7, anyway. Users have until Thursday morning to download the "release candidate" version of the software--the final test version of the operating system. It's a good option for those who have a spare machine to try out the software or for Mac users looking to experiment with running Windows either in virtualization software or via Boot Camp.

Microsoft has provided free, unlimited downloads of the release candidate version, but plans to halt distribution after Thursday.

"After that date, you will still be able to register your product and get registration keys but, the media will no longer be available for download," Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc said in a blog posting this week.

Even for those that get the software, the free ride only lasts so long. The release candidate will only work through early next year. The software will expire entirely on June 1 and, starting March 1, it will begin shutting down every two hours to remind users that the end is nigh.

Full story: c|net