Windows 7 to ship Oct. 22

Microsoft sets date, puts RTM in late July

Windows 7 will be generally available on Oct. 22 and the code will be finalized and sent out to manufacturing in late July, according to Microsoft.

After many months of speculation, the company finally nailed a firm date Tuesday just before noon. The release to manufacturing (RTM) -- which means the code is finished and ready to be burned on to distribution media -- will come in the second half of July, according to a company spokesman. There was no firm date for RTM provided.

In addition, Microsoft confirmed there would be a Windows Upgrade Option that is similar to its Tech Guarantee program. Microsoft said details on the program and its parameters will come at a later date.

Past Tech Guarantee programs give users who purchase an earlier version of a product during a specific eligibility period the option for a low-cost or sometimes no-cost upgrade to the new version when it is released.

In January, Microsoft sent a memo to OEMs to gather feedback on establishing such a program. The memo said the eligibility period would start on July 1, 2009. It did not provide an end date for eligibility.

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