This week, Microsoft reaffirmed its intention to ship Windows 7 by the end of the year. But, although the software giant still hasn't revealed the exact date when it will deliver Windows 7 to the OS, it is coyly getting ever more specific over time: Now, the company says Windows 7 will be ready in time for the holidays. And as of now, Windows 7—Microsoft says—is effectively complete.

"We will not be changing the functionality or features of the product at this point," Microsoft Senior Vice President Steven Sinofsky said. "That's the sort of thing we'll save for a future release."

Although the company won't confirm any dates, I've heard from reliable sources that Microsoft plans to finalize the Windows 7 code by August and deliver it to customers in mid-October. That last date maps effectively to public comments the company made this week about Windows 7 being ready "in time for the holidays."

What Microsoft will be missing, of course, is the back-to-school selling season. It's unclear how the company will overcome this problem, but it has already admitted that customers who buy Windows Vista-based PCs within a few months of Windows 7's general availability will get free upgrades to the new OS.