A Microsoft spokesperson just confirmed for me the news I first read a few minutes ago in a story by Ina Fried of CNET News.
The official date on which Windows 7 will be available for general purchase is October 22, 2009. The RTM code will be delivered to partners at the end of July.
In addition, Microsoft has confirmed its plans to make an upgrade option available for PC makers to offer customers who purchase a new PC with Windows Vista between the beginning of the "Tech Guarantee" period and the general-availability date.
I'll update this post with additional details as they become available.
Updated 3-June-2009 5:00AM PDT
Microsoft's press release with details of the announcement is now available. The official word came in a speech by Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President of the OEM Division, in a speech at the Computex tradeshow in Taipei:
Today during a keynote address at Computex 2009 in Taipei, Microsoft’s OEM Division Corporate Vice President Steve Guggenheimer revealed that the company is confident with the progress made with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and that as a result, Microsoft will deliver Release to Manufacturing (RTM) code to partners in the second half of July. Windows 7 will become generally available on Oct. 22, 2009, and Windows Server 2008 R2 will be broadly available at the same time.
“As we’ve said many times, quality is our primary goal,” Guggenheimer said. “We announce each milestone once we’re confident of where we are in the development cycle and that it is ready to be shared with customers and partners. We’ve received great feedback from our partners who are looking forward to offering Windows 7 to their customers in time for the holidays.”
In addition to this, Guggenheimer announced that Microsoft will make available an upgrade option, so partners can offer customers the ability to purchase a Windows Vista-based PC and install Windows 7 when it’s ready.
“Microsoft has been working closely with partners to help our mutual customers be able to enjoy the many benefits of Windows 7,” he said. “With that in mind, we’re excited to say that there will be a Windows upgrade program available. Consumers can buy that new PC, whether for a student heading off to college or just because they need a new one, and know they’ll get Windows 7 as part of the deal.”
The actual start date for the program will be announced when it is ready for consumers, and partners are ready to provide details to customers.
One interesting detail in Guggenheim's speech is an update on a device platform developed in collaboration with Fugoo LLC and first announced at CES in January. The idea of these devices is that they "fall somewhere between smartphones and ... full-featured small notebooks." Examples include "personal navigation devices, portable media players, set-top boxes and networked TVs."
In addition to the Fugoo-based devices, Microsoft showed off a small, Internet-enabled device based on Nvidia's Tegra computer-on-a-chip technology.
Further details on Windows 7 pricing and the technology guarantee program are expected by the end of June.