Some Windows Software Update Services (WSUS) users got a surprise on their patching servers on August 20: A mention of Windows 7 Client.
The actual Windows 7 client code was not distributed via WSUS. But the appearance of Windows 7 on the list of products that will be serviced over WSUS paves the way for Microsoft to start pushing something Windows-7-related to customers in the coming months.
"WSUS doesn't push products - just patches. so this could just be in preparation for something that is weeks or months in the future. It's just a new category." said one WSUS customer, who confirmed that he saw the "Windows 7" box on his update check list this morning.
The appearance of Windows 7 on a WSUS server was noted by Yannis Pantzis, who posted a screen shot of it on his blog. (I am providing a copy of his screen shot in case he is asked/required to remove it.)
WSUS is one of a number of Microsoft patching tools. Others include Windows Update and Microsoft Update. WSUS is typically employed by larger enterprises.
Microsoft has been providing a select number of outside testers with early Windows 7 builds over the past few months. A first, more widely distributed test build is expected around the time of Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in late October, 2008.
The final release of Windows 7 is expected in the latter half of 2009, according to Microsoft execs -- and some partners who claim they've been told by Microsoft that the company is expecting to deliver Windows 7 before the usually touted 2010 delivery date.
Update: At the end of the day on August 20, I received this official response from Microsoft on what happened with WSUS and Windows 7 today, delivered via a company spokesperson:
"Today, Microsoft published a top level category for “Windows 7 Client” onto Windows Sever Update Services (WSUS). This is a standard step in the Windows OS development process that allows internal Microsoft teams who are testing Windows 7 beta drivers/updates to begin testing publishing tools. The inclusion of the 'Windows 7 Client' category is simply part of Microsoft’s current standard development process for Windows prior to release, and is designed to ensure the highest quality at RTM from day 1."