In July, Microsoft released a "developer version" of Internet Explorer 11 for Windows 7 to the general public, followed by a Release Preview build in September. This week, Microsoft launched a new program that could be a clue that the company is very close to a final, non-beta, IE11 Windows 7 release.
Microsoft now has the Internet Explorer 11 Blocker Toolkit available to download from its site. The program has been set up mostly so that businesses can block automatic downloads of IE11, if those companies feel they are not yet ready to upgrade their older versions of Internet Explorer on their network. The toolkit, which also supports Windows Server 2008 R2, does not block manual downloads of IE11.
Even if you used the Blocker Toolkit to block Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, or Internet Explorer 10 from being installed as a high-priority or important update, you will still need to use the Internet Explorer 11 version of the Blocker Toolkit to block Internet Explorer 11 from being installed. There are different registry keys used to block or unblock automatic delivery of Internet Explorer 8, Internet Explorer 9, Internet Explorer 10 and Internet Explorer 11.
The fact that Microsoft has released this program is a likely sign that the launch of the final, non-preview, version of IE11 for Windows 7 is close at hand. It's more than possible that it will be made available next week, around the same time that Windows 8.1 will launch.