Following Microsoft's announcement of the release of Windows 7, we find out just what the Windows Vista successor will be like and, more importantly, when it will be available.

Microsoft has announced the launch of Windows 7, which the tech giant is describing as the successor to Windows Vista – the operating system that Gartner analyst Michael Silver described as carrying "a lot of perception issues". But what exactly is Windows 7 and when will it be released?

Well, it depends on who's talking, apparently. Chris Flores, a director with the Windows Client communications team, and Steve Sinofsky, the senior vice president who heads Windows development, have both pegged the release of the Vista follow-on as early 2010.

"We're happy to report that we're still on track to ship approximately three years after the general availability of Windows Vista," said Flores in a blog.

"[We] will continue to say that the next release of Windows, Windows 7, is about three years after the general availability of Windows Vista," Sinofsky told

However, another company executive, the one who heads the organisation chart, in fact, contradicted this. At the D:All Thing Digital conference in the US, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, put Windows 7's ship date as "late 2009".

The spread between early 2010, which would be the "three years after the general availability of Vista", which went into general distribution at the end of January 2007, and late 2009 may not sound significant, but only a few months separated Vista's actual release from an earlier date that would have meant the operating system made it into computers in time for those PCs to sell during the 2006 Christmas season.

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What will Windows 7 be like?

Under the hood, a lot like Vista, according to the tidbits that Microsoft tossed out recently.

Flores was almost expansive on the subject, and noted that Windows 7 would "carry forward" the "long-term architectural investments" made in Vista.

"Windows Vista established a very solid foundation, particularly on subsystems such as graphics, audio and storage. Windows Server 2008 was built on that foundation and Windows 7 will be as well," he said.

In fact, Sinofsky and Flores confirmed other Vista-like aspects of Windows 7, including the fact that the new OS will be released in both 32- and 64-bit versions. There was some speculation earlier that it would be a 64-bit operating system only. Windows 7 will as Flores said, run on the same hardware as recommended for Vista.

NEXT PAGE: More Windows 7 information

  1. What will Windows 7 be like?
  2. More Windows 7 information
  3. Will Windows 7 be a major or a minor release?
  4. Why Windows 7 gets the silent treatment
  5. The curse of great expectations