Microsoft has announced the release date for Windows 7, the next version of their Windows operating system. Windows 7 will be on store shelves by October 22, 2009 a full three months earlier than originally estimated. The operating system will be released to manufacturing in late July to provide system manufacturers the lead time they need to ready new computers with Windows 7.
Microsoft’s Windows 7 is the highly anticipated follow up/replacement/savior to the Windows Vista operating system which had a rocky introduction and a lukewarm reception at best. With Windows 7, Microsoft has made significant progress according to initial reports from testing of the beta versions of the operating system. Beta testers have noted improvements with usability and functionality in areas such as the Taskbar, the Desktop, Windows Search, system security, device management and networking.
Windows 7 Improved Performance
Another key area of improvement is in performance. Windows 7 places less demands on computer hardware components, performing faster than Vista even on older computers. Windows 7 also includes significant improvements in handling media files – music, pictures, video and TV – especially when compared to Windows XP. For insights on some beta test results see my earlier post on my initial installations and testing of the Windows 7 beta on two older computers.
As a final step in the release process Windows 7 will transition into the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) phase in late July. RTM entails Microsoft sending the final Windows 7 code to PC manufacturers so they can begin preparing new computer systems to ship with Windows 7 installed. This lead time will also provide resellers and retail stores the time to order, receive and prepare products for the October 22 release date.
Between Now and Windows 7 Release In October
One of the big questions following Microsoft’s announcement of the Windows 7 ship date is what about people who purchase computers shipped with Windows Vista up until October 22? This is a common challenge with a new version of Windows when the availability date of a new version is announced but general availability is a few months down the road. To begin to address this “lag” Microsoft has announced their upcoming “Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program.” Microsoft’s Windows Blog states that “This program enables participating retailers and OEMs to offer a special deal to upgrade to Windows 7 for customers purchasing a qualifying PC.”
In the official Windows 7 press release Microsoft’s OEM Division Corporate Vice President Steve Guggenheimer stated that, “Microsoft has been working closely with partners to help our mutual customers be able to enjoy the many benefits of Windows 7. With that in mind, we’re excited to say that there will be a Windows upgrade program available. Consumers can buy that new PC, whether for a student heading off to college or just because they need a new one, and know they’ll get Windows 7 as part of the deal.” The actual start date of this program has not been announced yet.
After a lengthy testing program including two huge beta test releases the final release date for Windows 7 is now set. After the problems, issues and questions that arose with Vista it would be a bit of an understatement to say that the release and success of Windows 7 is important to Microsoft, and actually to all Windows users. At this point most indications are that the odds are running in Microsoft’s favor.