Microsoft has confirmed that it won't issue a second beta of Windows 7, saying that the next test version of the operating system will be a near-final release candidate.
Windows engineering head Steven Sinofsky announced the move in a blog posting on Friday, confirming that Microsoft would stick to earlier plans for just a single beta.
"The next milestone for the development of Windows 7 is the Release Candidate or 'RC,'" Sinofsky wrote. "Historically the Release Candidate has signaled 'we're pretty close and we want people to start testing the release, especially because all the features are done.'"
Talking Windows 7
Microsoft released the feature-complete beta version earlier this month and general computer users have until February 10 to download the software. (Click on the video at right to hear me talk Windows 7 on CNET Editors' Office Hours.)
Sinofsky didn't say when to expect a release candidate, or the final release, though the company is believed to still be aiming to have the operating system ready to go on PCs in time for this year's holiday shopping season.
Although that is believed to be the goal, Microsoft has told partners that it is still too soon to commit for a 2009 release and it could yet be pushed into early 2010. Officially, Microsoft has said that it will have Windows 7 out within three years of the general availability of Windows Vista, which hit its two-year anniversary on Thursday.
For his part, Sinofsky encouraged people not too read to much into his posting.
"This post is in no way an announcement of a ship date, change in plans, or change in our previously described process, but rather it provides additional detail and a forward looking view of the path to (release)."
Meanwhile, Microsoft is moving ahead with plans for a second service pack for Windows Vista, which is due out next quarter, ahead of Windows 7.