Private Tests of Windows 7 Lead to Release Rumors

Microsoft won't say when the first public beta release of its Windows 7 operating system will occur, but some possible dates have been anonymously leaked.

Microsoft won't say when the first public beta release of its Windows 7 operating system will occur, but some possible dates have been anonymously leaked. The successor OS to Windows Vista is currently undergoing private testing. That release to testers, plus two upcoming Microsoft events happening in the fall, may be driving the speculation.

Events where we might expect to hear more about Windows 7 include Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference (Oct. 27 to 30) and the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (Nov. 5 to 7), both to be held in Los Angeles.

Microsoft currently lists five sessions at the PDC that focus on Windows 7, including panels on touch computing, Microsoft Surface and Web services, among others. WinHEC will have about nine or more Windows 7 sessions, so far touching on power and device management concerns.

Various builds of Windows 7 have already been released to a private group of testers, according to All About Microsoft columnist Mary-Jo Foley.

Two dates for the Windows 7 Beta have been leaked recently. An article stated that "Microsoft plans to release the first beta on October 27," which is the starting date of the PDC event. An All About Microsoft article stated that "Microsoft is not planning to make Beta 1 of Windows 7 available until mid-December."

The dates may get thrown about, but Foley claimed she has seen the latest build of Windows 7, which she called "Milestone 3" (Build 6780).

"Windows 7 does not look or feel like a major departure from Windows Vista," Foley wrote.

Information about Windows 7, Microsoft's successor to Windows Vista, has been kept under wraps. The long entries at Microsoft's "Engineering Windows 7" blog, which first appeared last month, have not disclosed release details as of yet. The blog's introductory post suggested that Microsoft was deliberately limiting details about the new OS to avoid "strategic confusion" among its partners and customers.

As for the expected release-to-manufacturing date of Windows 7, Microsoft executives have variously estimated it in the 2009 to 2010 time frame.

Microsoft's Chairman Bill Gates reportedly alluded to a 2009 release date, presumably late 2009, although it wasn't clear whether he meant a general release or a test version release.

Steven Sinofsky reportedly told Ina Fried of CNET in May that Windows 7 is "coming by January 2010." Sinofsky is Microsoft's senior vice president of Windows and the Windows Live Engineering Group.

A Microsoft press spokesperson described Windows 7's general availability in broad terms via an e-mail.

"We are currently in the planning stages for Windows 7 and development is scoped to three years from Windows Vista consumer general availability."

Since Windows Vista's general availability was on January 30, 2007, that would put Windows 7's general availability at January 30, 2010, which coincides with what Sinofsky has said.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is floating builds of Windows 7, but just to private testers.

"As is standard with the release of a new product, we will be releasing early builds of Windows 7 prior to its general availability as a means to gain tester feedback," the spokesperson wrote. "We're not sharing additional information at this time; instead, we're focused on helping customers today get the most value from their PCs using Windows Vista, and we're encouraged by the response and adoption so far."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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