Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to release the Release Candidate of Internet Explorer 9 by the end of January 2011.
The Redmond company has yet to confirm or deny third-party reports that claim to already have the IE9 RC availability deadline, or to comment in any way on the matter at hand.
Various sources are indicating that IE9 RC will actually drop on January 28th, 2011 (via LiveSide and sp3ciali5t), but the reports need to be taken with a grain of salt, until the software giant will offer official confirmation of the release date.
IE9 hit Beta in mid-September 2010, a launch which Microsoft marked through the Beauty of the Web event in San Francisco.
Following the release of the Beta development milestone, the company revealed that it wasn™t planning another Beta, but that RC would follow instead.
However, two additional releases of IE9 were offered to early adopters, taking the number of developer Builds to seven.
IE9 Platform Preview 7 continues to be available for download even at this point in time, alongside the Beta Build.
In fact, testers can swap the core of the IE9 Beta and replace it with the IE9 PP7 in order to get all of the benefits associated with the latest preview release.
In the three months and a half since IE9 Beta went live, the Build was downloaded in excess of 20 million times, a number which is bound to grow consistently, especially considering that the Release Candidate is close.
As it is the case with additional Microsoft software, the RC signals the fact that IE9 is extremely close to finalization, a milestone referred to as RTW (release to web), equivalent to RTM (release to manufacturing).
Microsoft already confirmed that IE9 RC will come with a new feature dubbed Tracking Protection, and designed to put users in control of their privacy and the websites they wish to share data with while online.