Windows 7 Out Before Christmas?

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With Windows 7 Beta getting positive reviews, more rumors are emerging that Microsoft's new operating system will be available before Christmas. But Microsoft is still refusing to admit that Windows 7 will be ready by the end of this year and insists on the January 2010 release date.

Windows 7 will be available at retail by Christmas this year -- say both The Inquirer and CNet News, according to different sources. The Inquirer quotes Microsoft techie Mark Russinovich, who said in a webcast that Windows 7 "will be sent for manufacture three years after Vista did the same, which was in October 2006."

On the other hand, CNet's Ina Fried quotes "PC industry sources in Asia and the U.S." saying that "they have heard things are on track to launch by this year's holiday shopping season." CNet also says that Microsoft is prepping a program to offer Vista users an inexpensive alternative to updating to Windows 7.

My colleague over at ComputerWorld, Preston Gralla, also uncovered evidence in early January that Windows 7 will ship this year. Based on a leaked internal Microsoft memo regarding the Windows 7 upgrade program, Preston is "assuming that within two or three months of the July 1 date (upgrade program launch), Windows 7 will ship."

According to the leaked Microsoft memo, the Windows 7 Upgrade Program lets PC makers give free upgrades to Windows 7 for customers who purchase Vista computers starting July 1. The free or cheap update would be basically the equivalent version of Vista to Windows 7. As previously reported, the versions in which Windows 7 will come are highly similar to Vista's.

Microsoft reiterated several times that Windows 7 might not be ready in time for this year's holiday season, sticking to its original launch date in early 2010. However, if indeed Microsoft will give users who buy a new computer with Windows Vista a free or cheap copy of Windows 7 when the new OS becomes available, the launch date of W7 shouldn't be too far away.

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