MIAMI--Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on Friday indicated that Windows 7, the next major version of Windows, could come within the next year, far ahead of the development schedule previously indicated by the software maker.
In response to a question about Windows Vista, Gates, speaking before the Inter-American Development Bank here, said: "Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version." Referring to Windows 7, the code name for the next full release of Windows client software, Gates said: "I'm super-enthused about what it will do in lots of ways."
Most of Gates' speech was devoted to topics closer to home for the crowd, such as how Latin America can be more competitive.
Windows 7 and its intended feature list have been the topic of speculation since Microsoft discussed some details of the new software last summer.
At that time, Microsoft said little except that Windows 7 will ship in consumer and business versions, and in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The company also confirmed that it is considering a subscription model to complement Windows, but did not provide specifics or a time frame.
Less than 24 hours ago, a Microsoft representative told CNET News.com that the company expects to ship the successor to Vista roughly three years from Vista's January 2007 debut.
Unclear is whether Gates was referring to early testing of Windows 7 coming within the year, as opposed to a widespread release or debut. An early test geared toward developers would be conceivable. The company has repeatedly said that it will accelerate the development of new Windows versions, largely as a response to Vista's roughly five year gestation period.
Microsoft on Thursday declined to extend a lifeline for Windows XP, saying that only a limited number of specialized machines will be sold with the operating system after June.
The company said it will continue to allow Windows XP Home edition to be sold for a class of computers it calls "ultra-low-cost PCs."
Vista, the current version of Windows, has sold well, according to Microsoft. But the operating system's debut was marred by repeated delays and shifting feature lists. Last week, Microsoft stepped up efforts to drive adoption of Vista by businesses.
CNET News.com's Mike Ricciuti contributed to this report.