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Will Microsoft parachute Windows 7 in early?

Curtains for Vista in 'H2 2009'

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Redmond has refused to spike speculation that it is racing to pump out its successor to Vista – Windows 7 – earlier than originally expected.

Windows 7 (AKA Blackcomb then Vienna) had initially been rumoured to hit the market in 2010, but expectations are rising that it will make a crash landing in the second half of 2009.

Australia's APC magazine even claims to have seen Redmond's roadmap for the new OS which marks three so-called "milestone" builds for the product's planned release.

The software giant, for its part, has stayed tight-lipped on the matter, offering a wishy-washy statement in which it insists that Microsoft remains upbeat about its current, unloved operating system.

A Microsoft spokesman said: "We're continuing to work with our customers and partners on the development of Windows 7, the next version of the client operating system. 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."

Meanwhile, APC claimed one milestone build has already reached a number of key partners who are busy validating code, while the follow-up builds will arrive later in the year, APC said.

It reckoned the roadmap didn't reveal any tasty information about further builds, including beta and release candidates. But APC claims Microsoft does spill the beans about the updated RTM (release to manufacturing) release date of Windows 7, pinning it down to H2 2009.

Of course, Vista itself hit manufacturers, then business customers in 2006, but did not reach the mass market until 2007.

Pulling such a major release forward would be out of character for Microsoft. Could this be MS execs having Vista panic attacks behind closed doors? It's hard to know for certain, but it's fair to say that customers aren't exactly rising from their feet to applaud the firm's current OS.

Some are waiting for service pack one to right a few wrongs with Vista, while other punters might be relieved to discover that they will soon be able to escape through the virtual door. ®

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