CNet's Ina Fried is reporting general availability of Windows 7 Final before the holidays. Over on Microsoft's Channel 10, Sarah Perez is confirming a release to manufacturing (RTM) target date of the last two weeks of July followed by general availability on October 22nd.
This doesn't come as too much of a surprise to those of us that have been using the beta release, followed by the RC. The operating system is simply a huge improvement in many ways over Vista and is much more configurable.
Recent updates / add-ons and driver releases (as well as 31+ new language packs) just keep adding the to appeal (and ease of use).
In my own personal tests, the native Windows 7 RC operating system runs Firefox, IE8, Chrome and almost all of my XP programs flawlessly, without having to turn on the XP virtualization add-on.
From networking with others, I can say fairly certainly that if you're using a recent PC (IE: Last two years), it's a pretty good bet that the Windows 7 will find your drivers (unlike early versions of Vista), make backing-up easier than ever ... and much more.
So once again we have Microsoft 'firing on all cylinders'. First Bing, then the Xbox announcement and now Windows 7 just months away.
Despite others' predictions, my own take is that pent up demand by both individuals and industry along with the lowest prices of good PC's in years will bring Windows 7 out-of-the-box quickly. Once IT guys (and gals :) get their hands on it, as well as some of the tools already available on TechNet, they're going to realize that their productivity will go up dramatically as they no longer have to write scripts or go to the command line to get things done, and, Windows 7 is MUCH more self-repairing than any previous Microsoft operating system.
Of all the announcements from Redmond this week, this is the one to be watching.