It sounds like Microsoft is aiming to get Windows 7 out earlier than it promised -- at least if you believe the company's CEO.
During his fireside chat with Chairman Bill Gates at the D6 conference on May 27, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that Microsoft was aiming to deliver Windows 7 in late 2009.
For those of you who've attempted to follow Microsoft's conflicting ship-date commitments for its next version of the Windows client, that is a month or two earlier than Microsoft execs said just yesterday morning (via a Q&A with Microsoft's Windows Engineering Chief Steven Sinofsky).
Microsoft's party line has been that Windows 7 will ship three years from the date that Vista became generally available. And that's where things have gotten a bit squishy. Microsoft began offering Vista to its business customers in the fall of 2006 and to consumers in January 2007.
When I asked Microsoft for yet another clarification on Windows 7's ship date last night, executives said the difference between Ballmer's latest pronouncement and Microsoft's stated timeframe was "really only a matter of a month or two." Remember; Microsoft's Windows team's new mantra is underpromise and overdeliver. It looks better to say you will ship in 2010 and actually deliver in 2009 than it does to say 2009 and have your due date slip into the next year.
The reason this "month or two" matters is because of the holiday PC sales season. With Vista, Microsoft missed getting code to its PC partners early enough for them to preload it on machines they sold during the holidays. I'd bet the new Windows regime is doing its darndest to make sure history doesn't repeat itself here.
All those folks who bet on a 2009 Windows 7 ship date in my ZDNet blogging colleague Ed Bott's date pool are sitting prettier as of today.
Meanwhile, speaking of ongoing uncertainties, will developers attending Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference the last week of October get alpha/Community Technology Preview (CTP) bits of Windows 7? That's been the rumor for a while now, but Microsoft still isn't saying. As of May 28, however, registration for the PDC is now open. Given that Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie is keynoting, it's a safe bet Live Mesh and the accompanying development kit for that will be on the PDC agenda....