If you're looking for information about Windows 7, Microsoft's Web site isn't going to be much help. There are of course, plenty of rumors about when the first public beta will be released and what the OS will look like, but Microsoft is keeping the details close to the vest. (There has been a "leaked" version of the beta, although this was not the official one.) However, it's widely speculated that Ballmer will discuss Windows 7 and give some details at the Consumer Electronics Show, scheduled for January 7.
Some chatter on the Channel Wire note that last week, Microsoft included, then removed the Windows 7 beta in the Action Pack quarterly update, to be launched on January 5. So far, Microsoft's timetable is simply "early 2009". As for my own speculation, I think Windows 7 will do two things. First, it will attempt to overcome some of the technical and design elements of Vista that has caused users to reject it in the marketplace. Second, Windows 7 will be a marketing effort. Microsoft knows that Vista has a damaged reputation. The actual reasons for it are less relevant, and at this point, no matter what Microsoft has done or will do to improve Vista will be irrelevant. From a marketing perspective, the name Vista is seen as a negative. It's all about perception. Microsoft could create the most perfect operating system in the world at this point, but if they still call it Vista, it won't sell. And so, the name change will be just as important as the technology changes with the release of Windows 7.