I've gotten a lot of email about a TG Daily (whatever that is) story stating that Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista, would ship in late 2009, much earlier than predicted. People are curious if I know anything about this (I don't) and whether my silence on the topic is the result of an NDA or something (it isn't). Let me clear the air a bit.

First, the claim:

A very early version of Windows 7, previously code-named Blackcomb Vienna, already has been shipped to “key partners” as a “Milestone 1” (M1) code drop for validation purposes. A roadmap received by TG Daily indicates that the new operating system will be introduced in the second half of 2009.

Unless something has changed, Microsoft hasn't used the codenames "Blackcomb" or "Vienna" for quite some time now. This product is internally referred to as "7" or "Windows 7," and there is indeed a handbook called "Shipping 7" that I've heard quite a bit about.

Now, that doesn't mean Microsoft hasn't shipped an early build of 7 to partners. This would, of course, really be a version of Windows Vista with some "7" technologies retrofitted onto it, standard practice dating back as far as the early Windows 4.0 beta (which became Windows 95). So that part makes sense, though I can't verify it.

Regarding late 2009, come on. I'd be surprised to see it happen that early, personally, though maybe Sinofsky's management style will be enough to get the Windows Division to move quickly for a change. I have a lot of friends in Windows as you might imagine, but Sinofsky is not one of them. I've heard directly that he is doing everything he can to keep early Windows 7 info internal and, more specifically, away from me. But if Windows 7 does ship in late 2009, it will be because it is a fairly minor release that builds on, not replaces, Vista. It won't be a major architectural change like Vista. In other words, it will be Vista R2. This, if you know Sinofsky's style, is pretty much the way he does things. (Exception: Office 2007, though that product benefited from Vista's many delays.)

My guess, and it's only a guess, is that we'll get some very early Windows 7 hints at WinHEC this year, and then PDC (October) will be the big announcement, as it was with Vista. However, Microsoft should be more realistic about what it can deliver, and when, this time around.

Related: Almost certainly bogus information from someone who's claimed to install the Windows 7 "M1" build.