Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 7 is shipping early to some customers in the UK, with retailers keen to get the new operating system out of the door before Royal Mail's planned 48-hour strike.

Windows 7's official launch date is Thursday October 22nd, and the operating system won't be available in stores until then. But PC World and Currys have already started shipping copies of Windows 7 to those who pre-ordered the OS - and some customers have already received them.

Windows 7 early "Just received through my letterbox a brand spanker of new Windows 7 DVD Home Premium courtesy of PC World. Nice and fast before all of the official release dates," one reader told The Register.

Microsoft has confirmed that it has given the green light to early Windows 7 shipments.

"Microsoft is aware of the planned postal strike and has taken action to minimise impact on those customers who pre-ordered their copies of Windows 7," the company said. "As a result, some customers may receive their copy of Windows 7 a day or two early."

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Talks to avert the postal strike are believed to be ongoing today. If they're not successful, the Communication Workers Union will press ahead with a nationwide 48-hour strike on 22 October. Like many online retailers, DSG International, owner of PC World and Currys, plans to use carriers in addition to Royal Mail for its deliveries.

Those who have not pre-ordered their copy of Windows 7, but who are desperate to be among the first to get their hands on the final version of the new OS, face an early start on Thursday as some retailers are opening early to celebrate Windows 7's launch.

PC World's store on Tottenham Court Road in London is opening its doors at midnight on 21st October, and the first 200 through the door will receive a copy of Windows 7 at a 50 percent discount.

Have you received your copy of Windows 7 early? Let us know in our Windows 7 forum