Microsoft confirmed on Tuesday that it is planning for Windows 7 to hit retail shelves and start showing up on new PCs on October 22.
To reach that milestone, Microsoft plans to wrap up development of the operating system by the middle or end of next month, Senior Vice President Bill Veghte said in an interview.
"The feedback from the release candidate has been good," Veghte said.
Microsoft made the near-final release candidate version available last month. Shortly after its release, Microsoft finally confirmed that it was aiming Windows 7 for a holiday 2009 release, something that was widely anticipated, but not confirmed by those in Redmond.
In an interview, Phil McKinney, chief technology officer of Hewlett-Packard's computer unit, said that he feels good about Microsoft's launch date.
"We're locked and loaded for the launch," McKinney said. "The quality of code is just absolutely stellar."
The software maker also confirmed, without giving details, that it plans to offer some sort of "technology guarantee" giving those who buy Vista machines close to the Windows 7 launch a free or discounted copy of the new operating system. As with past similar programs, details on pricing will be up to individual computer makers, although Microsoft did say the upgrade program will apply to Vista Home Premium and higher-priced editions (meaning not Windows Vista Basic).
The tech guarantee program is not beginning immediately, but Microsoft did raise the possibility it will offer some sort of lower-cost upgrade to those who are already using Windows Vista.
I've gotten a lot of e-mails suggesting Microsoft do something along those lines, but its comments this week were the first time I had heard it acknowledge that it was considering such a move.
As for the technology guarantee program, it likely means that Microsoft will do some deferring of Vista-related revenue, though Microsoft again did not spell out details.
"Depending on when we do it there will be the associated accounting for it," Veghte said.
Microsoft has said that Windows 7 will come in five different editions in most markets--Starter, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. A "Windows 7 Basic" will also be sold in emerging markets, Microsoft said.
The software maker has yet to announce pricing for the product.