Windows 7 could be in the hands of developers within two months, according to analysts speculating over Microsoft's plans for the next version of its desktop operating system, which is to be demonstrated to techies at two upcoming conferences.

Microsoft revealed last month that developers would get their first peek at Windows 7 in October, with executives planning to give partners an in-depth look at the code at the Professional Developers Conference (PDC). The software giant is also expected to demo Windows 7 at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) scheduled for November

But Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, said developers could expect more than a demonstration at the two events. "When that many developers [come] together, you want them to go home with something that they can play with," said Cherry, in an interview with Computerworld US. "Microsoft will want to do more than just tell developers about Windows 7."

Cherry said Microsoft would most likely provide Windows 7 code to developers at WinHEC. "It's a small grouping by number, so I think they are more likely to get something.

"Microsoft might have some concerns about the early code getting reviewed," said Cherry. "They won't want anyone to do any performance testing with a beta, but once it's out it's inevitable that those of us as analysts will start writing our impressions about the early code. Analysts abhor a vacuum."

Although Microsoft has revealed little about Windows 7 so far, the company has demonstrated one new feature - a multitouch interface designed to improve user interaction with Windows-based applications.

In a demo to the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in May, Julie Larson-Green, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Windows experience programme management, showed a number of applications that could use the multitouch technology, including photography apps that enable a user to handle photos on the screen more easily. The user could drag and drop snaps, zoom in, and rotate snaps with his fingers. The musically inclined could play with their fingers on an on-screen piano keyboard.

Windows 7 is expected to ship in the second half of 2009 or in early 2010.

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