The “leak” of the preliminary build was so obvious its ridiculous. Especially when new OS features are highlighted that would make the techno-savvy respond positively. The XP Pro virtual-machine operating mode is one that business and “power-users” would be interested in. It certainly looks attractive to me. Typical home users probably won't be interested in it. Though when I think about it, it's more like a business requirement than a feature.
According to the “leaks” and corroborated by at least one MS marketing person, the Virtual PC feature is going to only be offered in Ultimate and business versions of Win7. So the initial “leak” was deliberate. There will be more "leaks" to come.
At this point the only ones running Win 7 Beta are the uber-geeks and employees of companies that are needing to evaluate and test Windows 7. The intensity and transparency of the “leaks” looks like some of the out-of-work political spin doctors are working for MS now, or MS is using the political trial-balloon play-book.
With the large number of blogs and news stories, Microsoft marketing department is executing the beginnings of a “buzz” champaign for Windows 7. The websites and magazines have about done all they can bashing Vista so its time to clear the deck and make way for the pre-release Windows 7 non-paid advertising campaign. Make it look like a leak and the writers and editors will publish what you want them to for free.
The middle of October is about 6 months away. For computer manufacturers that's about as late as you'd delay manufacturing a new product for sale during the lead-up to Christmas. My guess is that the Release Candidate coming out May 5th is likely to go inert by the first week of December. That would give it roughly 7 months like the Beta has with its demise in August. It will also allow the buzz to continue almost all the way up to the late Christmas sale season.
The stockholders should be pleased. It practically guarantees new income for Microsoft before the end of the year. It will generate at least a bump up in the stock price. DELL and HP are probably ready for something to sell besides Visaster.
What will be really interesting to see is what the sales of Win7 "shrink-wrap" upgrades and full version versus Vista look like in the weeks and months after the release of Win7. That might be a real measure of how much Visaster was liked or disliked.