A recently-release roadmap for the next major Window release – Windows 7 – indicates that Microsoft is planning to release the new operating system in the second half of 2009, rather than the anticipated release date of some time in 2010.
There are apparently three “milestone” builds planned for 2008, and the first one – M1 – has already shipped to key partners for code validation. M1 is for the English language build only, but is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 will most likely be the last Windows operating system available in 32-bit, and given the rapid advances Windows Vista is making in the 64-bit computing market, this seems a sensible decision.
M2 should ship around April/May, and M3 some time in the third quarter of 2008. There’s no available roadmap information about further milestone, beta or release candidate builds, except the updated RTM release date of H2 2009.
If Windows 7 is released in the second half of 2009, this will be three years after Windows Vista which went RTM in November 2006. A three-year major product cycle would take the Windows operating system out of cycle with Windows Server, which is on an approximate four-year cycle.
The big question is who in the market will respond to an early release. The transition to Windows Vista seems to have caused a lot of angst amongst users, but I think has far more to do with moving out of the Windows XP comfort zone, rather than any indication of Vista’s quality or stability. In which case, perhaps a shorter product cycle from here on in will get users and businesses thinking ahead much quicker, not to mention the hardware vendors who were the major contributors to Vista’s shaky start.