Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Windows 7 release this year

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) disclosed more details on its timetable for finishing up work on the Windows 7 operating system. An official at the software maker said the company hopes to release the OS to its manufacturing division by about mid-August.

"We expect to hit RTM in about 3 months or so," said Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's in-house Windows blogger, in a post Monday. LeBlanc said a mid-August release to manufacturing (RTM) would be contingent on Microsoft receiving feedback from Windows 7 Release Candidate users that "meets our expectations in terms of quality."

Microsoft Windows senior VP Bill Veghte on Monday confirmed what many in the computer industry have come to suspect -- that Microsoft intends to ship a final version of Windows 7 to stores and PC makers sometime later in 2009.

"With early RC testing and extensive partner feedback we've received, Windows 7 is tracking well for holiday availability," said Veghte, in a statement. The RTM process includes disc mastering and reproduction, as well as other manufacturing tasks, and generally takes about three months.

LeBlanc, in his blog, further emphasized that Microsoft won't take shortcuts in order to get Windows 7 out the door before the calendar turns. "I want to underscore that our top priority remains QUALITY. This guidance does not alter that principle," said LeBlanc.

Microsoft has good reason to be wary of shipping Windows 7 until it's ready for prime time. Windows Vista, the company's current OS, experienced a number of setbacks almost from the moment it debuted in January 2007. Problems included incompatible applications and device drivers, and user complaints about Vista's hefty hardware requirements and intrusive security measures that sought manual approval for even the most routine tasks.

Microsoft rival Apple wasted no time in lampooning Vista's foibles through a series of commercials, featuring the cool Mac guy and nerdy PC guy, that became instant classics in the ad and tech industries. Dissatisfaction with Vista also caused most major enterprises to shun the OS and hang on to predecessor Windows XP well past its intended shelf life.

Microsoft, which saw Windows sales fall 16% in the most recent quarter, is hoping Windows 7's early favorable reviews, as well as new features such as built-in touch screen support, will help it overcome the Vista debacle.

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