Windows 7 has been a tightly controlled product from its first days on the drawing board. The last milestone is proving to be no exception: On July 22, at precisely 4:40 p.m. ET, Microsoft announced it had released to manufacturing Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
(What's up with the weird hand-off time? It seems to be designed to coincide with CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote address for Microsoft's 13,000 or so field sales folks who are in Atlanta this week for the MGX conference. Unfortunately, the MGX folks are running late and Ballmer wasn't yet speaking at 4:40... oh well.)
The Windows builds that are being released to manufacturing today were compiled over a week ago, on Monday July 13, company officials confirmed. Specifically, it's build 7600.16385 that is the RTM version of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.
There's not much new left to say about either product. Very little has changed between the Release Candidate builds that went to the public in May and the RTM versions, testers who've been dabbling with leaked copies of the 16835 build say.
(Check out all of ZDNet's Windows 7 coverage via our Special Report page. And if you are all about Windows Server, check out my colleague Jason Perlow's coverage of the RTM of Windows Server 2008 R2 here.)
While Microsoft did a bunch of tuning and final testing in the last month-plus, the final Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 products won't be very different from the last build testers saw, officials said. Microsoft's intention was to keep the code base stable so that partners and customers could start testing on it months before the products went to manufacturing, officials said. While some testers welcomed that dependability, others were less-enamored of going to the trouble of testing with the feeling their input was going to make little difference.
PC makers will get the official bits from Microsoft by the end of this week, as Microsoft officials said yesterday. Those who want to download the official builds from Microsoft won't be able to do so for another week plus (depending on whether you have an MSDN/TechNet, volume-license agreement or some other way of getting the bits earlier than the general availability date of October 22).
Speaking of October 22, that is the date Microsoft is considering to be its worldwide consumer launch of Windows 7. There will be a bunch of new hardware that has yet to be seen from a variety of manufacturers that will be preloaded with Windows 7 available on that date, said Mike Angiulo, General Manager of Microsoft's Planning and PC Ecosystem team. (No word still on whether Microsoft will hold a single big launch, like it did with Vista in New York; I hear company officials are leaning away from going that route.)
The "business launch" of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 is slated for November 9, officials said. (Actually, it's going to be a triple-play launch of Win7/Win Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010, as Microsoft told its partners attending the Worldwide Partner Conference last week.) It sounds as if there will be a number of business launch events starting on that date and continuing for the next couple of months.
"This will be our first ever launch of Windows client and server together," said Angiulo. (Microsoft came close a couple of times, but there was always some gap between the two.) And Microsoft is planning to emphasize the "better together" theme in its upcoming marketing and sales collateral.
This is also the first time "we haven't doubled systems requirements for a new Windows release," Angiulo said. " We kept them the same, if not even a little better," in terms of power, graphics, hard drive and other requirements, he said.
Angiulo characterized Windows 7 as a "learning release" for Microsoft, in terms of working more closely with its hardware and software partners. He gave the Windows team high marks for its processes with the newly minted client and server releases.
"We set rigorous engineering milestones and hit them. we did what we said we were going to do," he said.