Windows 7 on track for August RTM, October on-sale

Unlike Vista, new OS will be ready for holidays, say Microsoft execs

Microsoft is on track to wrap up Windows 7 and ship it to computer makers in August, a company executive said today.

"If the feedback and telemetry on Windows 7 match our expectations, then we will enter the final phases of the RTM process in about 3 months," said Steven Sinofsky, the senior vice president of the Windows engineering group, in a post to a company blog Monday morning.

"If we are successful in that, then we tracking to our shared goal of having PCs with Windows 7 available this holiday season," Sinofsky said, echoing comments made by another executive, Bill Veghte, the senior vice president who runs the Windows Business unit.

Sinofsky's three-month timeline for RTM, which stands for "release to manufacturing," means Windows 7 would be ready to ship to computer manufacturers in August.

Previously, Computerworld had noted that that if Windows 7 followed the development pace of its two predecessors, Windows Vista and Windows XP, Microsoft could start shipping the new operating system anytime between August 28 and Sept. 20.

Assuming Sinofsky's three months means Windows 7 goes RTM around Aug. 11, three months from today, Windows 7 could go on sale and be available on new PCs around Oct. 11 if Microsoft adheres to a schedule identical to XP's. If it uses a trajectory like Vista's, the on-sale date would be near Nov. 4.

Traditionally, the U.S. holiday selling season kicks off on the Friday after Thanksgiving, the so-called "Black Friday." This year, Black Friday is Nov. 27.

Although Sinofsky predicted that Windows 7 would go RTM in August, he cautioned that there was no set date for that to happen. "We do not have a 'deadline' we are aiming to meet," Sinofsky said. "The quality of the product and a smooth finish are the most important criteria."

He also spelled out the type of issues that Microsoft will deal with between RC and RTM, hinting that any could delay delivery of the RTM build. Sinofsky ticked off seven possible problems that could throw a wrench into the Windows 7 works, including installation glitches, security fixes, crashes, device incompatibilities, trouble installing third-party software, issues with Windows Update and finally, potential problems with brand-new hardware that partners are prepping for Windows 7.

"Obviously any vulnerability is a potential for something we would fix," Sinofsky acknowledged, referring to security issues that would drive Microsoft to go back into the Windows 7 code between RC and RTM. "We will use the same criteria to address these issues as we would for any in-market product."

Microsoft has already pushed one Windows 7 patch to users of the English-language, 32-bit edition.

The company will also stress test the Windows Update component in Windows 7 tomorrow by feeding users 10 test updates.

Microsoft has yet to set pricing of Windows 7, and Sinofsky did not bring up the issue in his blog entry.

Last week, Microsoft issued Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) to the general public, following its release to subscribers of the company's developer and IT professional services five days earlier.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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