Microsoft announced June 2 that Windows 7, the operating system designed to replace Windows Vista, will roll out for general commercial availability on Oct. 22.
Bill Veghte, senior vice president for Microsoft Windows, was quoted in a June 2 Wall Street Journal article as saying, "We feel confident that we will deliver Windows 7 with our partners on Oct. 22."
Veghte also mentioned that Microsoft hardware partners would be "betting heavily" on the new operating system. PC makers such as Dell are certainly looking at the operating system as one way to reverse sluggish sales in the midst of a global recession.
Windows was responsible for roughly $20 billion in Microsoft sales in 2008, or roughly a third of its overall revenue. However, for the fiscal third quarter ended March 31, the company reported a 6.5 percent year-over-year decrease in revenues, its first-ever quarterly revenue decline, putting pressure on the company to deliver a considerable OS success.
Vista, which rolled out in January 2007, encountered considerable problems from the outset, to the point where vendors started exercising downgrade rights to put Windows XP on machines they sold to consumers.
A number of analysts have predicted, however, that Windows 7 will have more appeal for both the enterprise and consumers, particularly given that applications built for XP are predicted to port with no issues to Windows 7.
Despite rumors that Microsoft 7 will be adapted for mininotebooks, known popularly as netbooks, Microsoft also seems determined to install the operating system on as many traditional PCs as possible, which are likely to provide higher margins.
"They want to push the overall [Windows] market towards their premium market, for both customers and the enterprise," John Spooner, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said during an April 24 interview with eWEEK.
Nonetheless, netbooks remain a rising factor for both consumers and the enterprise, with one analyst report showing that the percentage of Windows-equipped netbooks jumped from under 10 percent of the market in the first half of 2008 to 96 percent in February 2009.
Whether Windows 7 ends up on more top-of-the-line desktops or netbooks, however, it seems more important than ever for Microsoft that the operating system be a hit.
As Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer reportedly said during a classroom-style conversation with 1,200 Stanford students on May 6: "A product like software is only as good as the last release ... or two."