"As you may recall, Bill Gates himself mentioned a little ways back that Windows 7 could possibly be arriving as soon as next year, which prompted some quick backtracking on Microsoft's part, but that earlier-than-expected date has now cropped up yet again, this time supposedly in Microsoft's internal calendar. According to InternetNews.com, that calendar pegs the planned release date as June 3rd, 2009, which is a good deal sooner than the "early 2010" date we've been hearing all along, and quite a significant cut into Vista's planned three-year lifespan. What's more, the site also says that Microsoft will take advantage of its Professional Developer's Conference on October 27th to launch the first public beta of Windows 7, although that doesn't quite match up with earlier word that it'd only be revealing some "in-depth technical information" about the OS."
There's not a lot to go on here, but this Internetnews.com article that Engadget has linked to has a fairly logical trail of bread crumbs that leads to the June 2009 launch date. There's a certain amount of logic in Microsoft pushing hard to get Windows 7 out the door faster than they'd originally planned: they get a chance to fix the issues with Windows Vista, they get to re-position the product with new marketing campaigns, and they force Apple to re-shoot all their smart-ass commercials. ;-) I just hope Microsoft is working on a configuration of Windows 7 that's optimized for small and light devices such as UMPCs and netbooks. Vista is just too big and heavy for small devices.
I'm exceedingly disappointed to see the word "Ultimate" in the above screen shots. I really hope Microsoft doesn't repeat the same mistake they made with Windows Vista by having four different versions available at retail. I distinctly remember having rather heated discussions with Microsoft people about how bad it was going to be that they were fragmenting the product line and making it more confusing for users, but those complaints fell on deaf ears. I was cautiously optimistic about Windows Vista Ultimate when I first heard about it, but seeing as how the "Ultimate Extras" turned out to be a huge disappointment, the words "Windows Vista Ultimate" are now synonymous with wasted money.