I’ll be publishing this in Short Takes later this morning, but I thought it would be of interest here in the blog as well:

There's been a lot of speculation about when Microsoft would ship Windows 7, its eagerly awaited follow-up to Windows Vista. So far, I've suggested that the company would ship Windows 7 far earlier than most people thought. But now I'm ready to make a number of more specific predictions myself, and add to the speculation.

It's pretty widely known that Microsoft will ship a beta release (and a public one at that) of Windows 7 in January. This beta will be the only beta and it will be followed by a single release candidate build, and then the final version, all in quick succession. I expect Windows 7 to be finalized by April 2009 at the latest, and to be completed simultaneously with Windows Vista/Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 (SP2), which is also due in April. (Windows 7 and SP2 share more code than people realize as well, by the way.) Windows 7 will be made broadly available to consumers and business customers no later than June 2009.

And those, folks, are my predictions for the release of Windows 7.

One other factoid: My understanding is that Vista SP2 and Windows 7 will be the baseline for both application and device compatibility going forward, and that’s a big part of the code sharing between these two releases. The idea is that if it works in Vista (with SP2) it will absolutely work in Windows 7 as well.