Why Windows 7 will be out later this year

With the public Windows 7 release candidate right around the corner, and development towards the RTM on track, people are wondering "When is the final release date for Windows 7?" With many dates flying around, I personally think that Windows 7 will be out later this year, and here's why:

First, let's back up a bit. Microsoft has set an internal date of January, 2010, approximately 3 years after Vista. Now let's say for the sake of argument that turns out to be true. This would be a big mistake for Microsoft because they'll miss the crucial holiday season, when obviously people will be buying new computers and software, and we all remember how badly Vista's release went.

Right now as of this writing, the latest build in the winmain branch is 6.1.7116.0.winmain.090422-1816. Since build 7100 was the release candidate, and Microsoft only increments the second number in a build number when they reach a major milestone, let's assume that the RTM will be build 7200. Keep in mind that any build 7100 and up could be the RTM if no showstopper bugs are found.

Let's assume that a new build is complied each day all the way up to 7200. That means that the RTM would be complied around July 15, 2009, give or take a few days if builds aren't complied on the weekends. Microsoft has stated that the Windows 7 upgrade program will start June 26th, 2009, Acer is giving a date of October 23rd, 2009, and Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte told Paul Thurrott that "a holiday release is accomplishable.". All of these point to a 2009 release.

But there's another date that Microsoft may not want to miss, and that's around September. Why September? Because that's when school will be starting, and students will be buying new computers for school. OEMs can greatly help Microsoft by selling computers pre-loaded with Windows 7 already on them with back to school deals before boxed copies of the software go on store shelves.

Unofficially and off the record company officials have told Neowin that they are targeting a Summer RTM and a Fall general availability. We are going to guess July RTM, September General Availability.

Marketing also plays a crucial role in Windows 7's success, and it looks like Microsoft is starting to gear up for marketing Windows 7 already. We'll have to wait and see when Windows 7 will start being featured in Microsoft's ads, but I suspect it'll be soon.

Neowin Editor Tom Warren contributed to this article

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