Microsoft revealed that it will deliver Windows 7 to customers on October 22, 2009, marking the conclusion of one of the most trouble-free Windows development cycles in the company's history. The company will also deliver Windows Server 2008 R2, the server-side stable mate of Windows 7, on the same date.
"We're confident of where we are in the development cycle and that it is ready to be shared with customers and partners," Microsoft Corporate Vice President Steve Guggenheimer said during a keynote address at Computex 2009 in Tapei. "We've received great feedback from our partners who are looking forward to offering Windows 7 to their customers in time for the holidays."
The October 22 date is what Microsoft calls General Availability (GA). This is when finished retail versions of the product will appear on new PCs and in retail boxes for the first time. But Windows 7 will be completed well before that: Microsoft also noted that it will complete development of Windows 7 (and Windows Server 2008 R2) in the second half of July. This is the so-called Release To Manufacturing (RTM) milestone. At RTM, the code for Windows 7 is delivered to PC makers so that they can begin prepping their Windows 7-based products.
A number of details still need to be resolved. Microsoft has yet to announce pricing or licensing for Windows 7, and although the company has said that it will again offer free upgrades to anyone who purchases a new PC before the Windows 7 release, it has yet to specify details of that plan either. Generally speaking, those who purchase a Windows Vista-based PC after a certain date will qualify for a free copy of Windows 7.
In the meantime, if you want to evaluate Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, you can freely download the Release Candidate (RC) version of either product through the end of June. You can read more about Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 on the SuperSite for Windows.