Microsoft has been consistently saying it plans to release the next version of its flagship desktop operating system, Windows 7, before the end of 2009—and computer maker Acer spilled some beans a month ago by saying it expected to launch Windows 7-equipped PCs in October—but now the word as finally come down: Windows 7 will go on sale to consumers on October 22, 2009.
Microsoft posted a release candidate of Windows 7 last month to the general public, inviting Windows users—or at least Windows users with a lot of bandwidth—to download and try out the operating system for free. Response to the RC has generally been positive, with the broader Windows community seemingly eager to put Vista behind them and move on to Windows 7. Windows 7 offers a number of technology, performance, and interface enhancements, but is based on the same fundamental design and architecture as Vista.
Consumers’ eagerness to move on from Vista mirrors many enterprises’ and organizations’ hesitations about Vista: although Microsoft claims Vista sales have been strong, many enterprise customers have skipped Vista entirely, sticking with the ever-aging Windows XP. Those organizations have long since been expected to skip Vista entirely, opting for Windows 7 instead as they bring in new hardware and get the operating system certified with their operations.
Microsoft hasn’t announced any plans, but the company is widely expected to offer some sort of rebate or discounted upgrade program for new buyers of Windows Vista or systems pre-loaded with Vista so as not to cannibalize new PC sales in the interval before Windows 7 ships. Specific details of any rebate or discount program will likely vary between computer makers; industry watchers don’t expect Microsoft to offer any stepped-down path ti Windows 7 for Windows XP or Windows Vista Basic users.