ArsTechnica's been looking at the tea leaves in the Microsoft cup to try to figure out when Windows 7 will show up on retail shelves. There are lots of indicators that suggest late 2009:
A posting at I Started Somethingnotes that the 2008 version of WinHEC (November 2008) will be the last WinHEC before Windows 7 ships (WinHEC is normally held in April or May).
ZDNet's Ed Bott and others (including our own Pulkit Chandna) note that ASUS is planning to put Windows 7 on its Eee PCs in the second half of 2009.
Microsoft is distributing a pre-beta release of Windows 7 at next week's PDC, and a public beta is expected in December of this year.
However, ArsTechnica also sounds a note of caution with a familiar ring for those of us who watched the botched Vista launch:
In spite of that pressure, the release of Windows 7 is one the software giant has to get right. The company cannot afford for Windows 7's quality to be compromised just to hit a deadline. Though Microsoft's customers clearly won't tolerate a kind of Duke Nukem Forever "when it's finished" approach—the software does need to ship, after all—a first-rate Windows 7 in the first half of 2010 will make customers much happier than another release with Vista-like teething trouble in late 2009. Windows 7 needs the wow factor. Next week's PDC release should tell us if it has it.
So, what do you think? Are you waiting for Windows 7, planning to trade in your Bill Gates doll for a stuffed penguin, or content to play a waiting game and keep running XP for now? Hit the Comment button and tell us your thoughts.