Microsoft has announced the availability of a 90-day free trial of the final release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Windows 7 Enterprise edition. Whether you are anxiously awaiting the new operating system, or sceptical of the hype around Windows 7, here are five reasons you should jump on the free trial.

1. Judge for yourself
Some have said that Windows 7 is little more than Windows Vista SP3. Even those who feel Windows 7 is Microsoft's apology to the world for Windows Vista seem to admit that Windows 7 is a pretty good apology. Whether you are still using Windows XP, have made the switch to Windows Vista, or haven't been using Windows at all, now is your chance to take a look at the final release version of Windows 7 and decide for yourself.

2. Figure out what works
One of the headaches of upgrading operating systems is finding out that the applications and peripherals you rely on no longer work. When Windows Vista launched users the wide variety of issues with device drivers and incompatible software greatly contributed to the negative image it earned and tarnished its reputation. The trial version will let you dip your toe in the proverbial water and see for yourself whether the products you rely on will play nicely with the new operating system. It's your free chance to either determine that this OS is not for you, or to get a jumpstart on contacting product vendors for updates or finding alternative solutions that will work with Windows 7 if you choose to upgrade.

3. See what you're missing
There are a variety of versions of Windows 7. The lower-end Windows 7 Home versions and even the Windows 7 Professional version are lacking some of the features and functionality found in Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate. The free trial is for Windows 7 Enterprise. That gives you 90 days to tinker with the fully-loaded version of the operating system and determine whether or not you really want or need those additional features.

4. Is it worth it?
Windows 7 has a lot of new features and functionality: Jump Lists, AeroPeek, AeroSnap, automatic driver installation, BitLocker-to-Go, and more. Critics will say that the Aero UI is useless eye candy, or perhaps that Microsoft just 'borrowed' the interface from Mac OS X.

But so what? What do those features mean to you, and is are they worth the investment? Of course, you also have to wade through the version and pricing matrix to figure out what the new OS would cost you.

5. Supplies are Limited
Act Quickly. According to this blog announcement of the free trial from Microsoft "A limited number of licenses are available, so the download will only be available while supplies last." Once you get the software downloaded and installed, act quickly to activate it as well. The blog also points out that "activation of Windows 7 Enterprise 90-Day Trial is required within 10 days after installation, or the product will shut down every hour."

Whether you are a Windows 7 fan or a Windows 7 sceptic, this free trial is your opportunity to look under the hood and see for yourself if the operating system meets your expectations and is worthy of your time and money.

Tony Bradley is an information security and unified communications expert with more than a decade of enterprise IT experience. He tweets as @PCSecurityNews and provides tips, advice and reviews on information security and unified communications technologies on his site at