Microsoft: Windows 7 PCs Coming For Holidays

"We're going for holiday and we're tracking very, very well for it," said Bill Veghte, senior vice president for the Windows Business, in a Monday keynote speech at Microsoft's TechEd conference in Los Angeles.

Microsoft has played its cards close to the vest with Windows 7, doggedly avoiding discussion of specific release dates. Microsoft launched the Windows 7 RC to the public last week, and recent chatter within the Microsoft partner channel has pointed to Windows 7 availability this fall. That would give PC makers plenty of time to load Windows 7 onto new PCs for the holidays, a luxury they didn't have with Vista due to multiple development delays.

Windows Server 2008 R2 will generally be available in the same time frame as Windows 7, a result of Microsoft's simultaneous development of the two products, Veghte said. Windows Server 2008 R2 will include virtualization tools such as Live Migration, an enterprise-class feature included in the VMware and Xen-based virtualization platforms that makes it possible to move running virtual machines from one system to another system.

Veghte said Microsoft focused on getting the Windows ecosystem of hardware and software partners ready for Windows 7 at an early stage. As a result, Microsoft has been able to achieve a high degree of third-party interoperability in the Windows 7 Release Candidate.

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"This is something we spent huge, huge cycles on," Veghte said. "There should be no surprises."

Microsoft currently has 10,000 hardware and software partners participating in Windows 7 RC development, a number that Microsoft in the past has reached only after general availability, according to Veghte. In a sign of Microsoft's confidence in the Windows 7 RC, the company has already kicked off Windows Logo testing for partners to certify their products' compatibility with the operating system, he added.

Veghte also unveiled the Community Technology Preview of SQL Server 2008 R2, code-named 'Kilimanjaro,' and said it will be available in the second half of the year. In recognition of the mountains of data that today's businesses generate daily, Microsoft has improved SQL Server's management and business intelligence capabilities, Veghte said.

"The amount of data businesses are generating continues to explode, and it's an age-old challenge to handle these monstrous streams of data," Veghte said. "The agility to pattern-match within that data is a huge opportunity."

Microsoft also plans to launch a technology preview of Office 2010 in July, although it'll be offered on an invite-only basis, Veghte said.