Microsoft’s newest version of its operating system, Windows 7, is finally in the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) stage, so the OS will soon be preloaded on new computers. Though not officially released yet, Windows 7 is expected to be a hit. For instance, after just eight hours on Amazon UK, Windows 7 pre-orders outpaced the total number of pre-orders for Vista over a period of 17 weeks.
According to Microsoft, Windows 7, which offers seven different versions of the OS, has undergone significant testing, quality assurance and validation required to get to the RTM stage. Independent software and hardware vendors will be able to download Windows 7 RTM as early as August 6th. Microsoft will be rolling out Windows 7 to other partners in mid to late August. Enterprise customers and developers will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English starting on August 7, with additional language functionality for Windows 7 released shortly after.
For the plebes/consumers, Windows 7 will be in retail stores and shipping on new PCs starting October 22nd, which we already knew. After receiving an overwhelming response from beta testers, Microsoft is also offering a “family pack” for Windows 7 that will allow installation on up to 3 PCs. The company has also officially released the new version of Expression 3, the set of tools Microsoft offers for developers to build applications off of Silverlight.
Of course, the official RTM release of Windows 7 comes at a time when Microsoft’s stranglehold of the operating system is being challenged by the recent announcement of Google’s Chrome OS. Google is scheduled to release the open source code for Chrome OS later this year, which perhaps could conveniently fall around the October launch of Windows 7. The first Chrome OS computers won’t launch until next year. While Google says the Chrome OS is targeted towards netbooks at the moment, there is definite potential for Google’s OS to expand to the other types of computers, giving Microsoft something to mull over.