Seriously. Why is this even a topic of discussion at this point? Microsoft has said repeatedly that Windows 7 will ship about three years after the general availability of Windows Vista, putting the release roughly at January 2010. Apparently, they're saying it yet again:

Microsoft will ship Windows 7 sometime in or near Jan. 2010, according to a letter company senior vice president Bill Veghte sent to Microsoft customers Tuesday.

The letter, sent to enterprise and business customers, will eventually be publicly posted on Microsoft's Web site.

In the letter sent to "Windows Customers" and titled "An Update on the Windows Roadmap," Veghte said "our plan is to deliver Windows 7 approximately three years after the January 2007 general availability launch date of Windows Vista."

Veghte wrote, "You have told us you want a more regular, predictable Windows release schedule" and he said that was the impetus for setting the 2010 ship date.

"You've also let us know you don't want to face the kinds of incompatibility challenges with the next version of Windows you might have experienced early with Windows Vista. As a result, our approach with Windows 7 is to build off the same core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with Windows 7. Our goal is to ensure the migration process from Windows Vista to Windows 7 is straightforward."