updated 12:00 pm EST, Wed December 3, 2008
Windows 7 Beta in January
Despite only having been publicly unveiled in late October, Windows 7 should already be in its first readily available beta version just after the start of the year, Technet's Keith Combs has confirmed. Manufactured DVDs of Windows 7 Beta 1 should be available to attendees of Microsoft's Developers Conference from January 13th onwards, suggesting the company will have the test operating system completed even sooner into 2009. Attendees at the Chicago and Minneapolis conferences will be the first to receive a copy at the show, though visitors to the earlier events should also have copies as well.
Although characterized as a first beta, the news supports Microsoft's plans for an accelerated schedule for Windows 7. At the October debut, the software was said to be receiving just one typical developer beta before moving on to a more public version and then the final release; the current timeframe gives Microsoft the majority of 2009 for its few remaining tests and hints that the company fully intends to move Windows 7 up to an official release in late 2009 instead of early 2010.
The speed up is helped largely by Microsoft's focus on optimizations and the user interface over the core architecture, which was completely overhauled for Vista and whose troubled development forced a rewrite in 2004 that effectively restarted much of the project.