Microsoft on Wednesday announced that Windows 7—and its server stable mate, Windows Server 2008 R2—had finally hit the RTM, or "release to manufacturing," milestone. This means that the products are complete, finalized, and ready to be delivered to partners and customers.

"Today marks an important milestone in the Windows 7 project," Microsoft Vice President Steven Sinofsky noted in a corporate blog. "The Windows 7 team is proud to share with you that a short while ago we started to release Windows 7 to PC OEM and manufacturing partners. This means our next major milestone will be the availability of PCs loaded with Windows 7 and store shelves stocked with Windows 7 on October 22, 2009."

"Windows Server 2008 R2 is now blessed by engineering as ready for the manufacturing process," said Technical Product Manager Oliver Rist on Microsoft's more personable Windows Server blog. "We're talking final code. Sun shining, birds singing, children dancing in the streets."

As is always the case with a final, shipping build of Windows, Microsoft actually created the final build of Windows 7 weeks ago—it's build 7600—and then pushed it through a series of validation checks. During this time, if any show-stopper issues are found, Microsoft will iterate the code, but it will not change the main build number of the product. This happened at least once with Windows 7.

While Windows 7 does have a single General Availability (GA) date at which time the OS will become broadly available, various Microsoft customers will gain access to the product over the coming days, weeks, and months. Check out Windows 7 Availability on the SuperSite for Windows for more information.

Now that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 have been finalized, I'll be preparing final reviews, screenshot galleries and other articles on the SuperSite as well. The first such article, highlighting the Windows 7 interactive setup process, is available now.

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