Microsoft Windows XP was released on Thursday, October 25, 2001. Eight years later, on Thursday, October 22, 2009 - Microsoft will release Windows 7 to the world in all the available versions.
Microsoft's own partners are gearing up their line-ups for the release of Windows 7, and this will be the probably the last day when ATI and nVidia can launch their DirectX 11-powered graphics chips into e-tail and retail. Who is late for this train, doesn’t have a good writing on the wall. However, the release date on October 22 doesn't mean that enthusiasts and power users won't have at least a month of experience playing with the new operating system.
If we take a look at Microsoft pages in the book, the company usually releases an RTM version [Release-To-Manufacturing] anywhere between 45 and 60 days before to retail release, meaning we could be playing with the finished version of Windows 7 as early as August. This is nothing unexpected, just the natural course of action which will spice up the late summer. Back in 2001, I received the Windows XP Professional RTM CD for my birthday [August 30, 1979 for those interested] - it was standard white label CD with printed black-and-white cover, packed in a classic OEM CD slip with Microsoft-like CD key label.
Long story short, we can expect RTM hitting us anywhere between weeks beginning on August 24, ending with the week starting on September 7.
At the time of writing, we have no confirmation about the pricing of Windows 7, but we can say with a "certain dose of certainty" that Microsoft won't do jack for users who paid massive 400 greenbacks for purchasing their copies of Windows Vista Ultimate. Given that Microsoft fall flat on their faces with the alleged future features of Vista Ultimate, we cannot recommend even considering Windows 7 Ultimate unless all the "future features" are implemented from day one. Windows 7 is make-or-break operating system release for Microsoft, since any uncertainty or flaw will be an automatic door opening for Android, Mac OSX Snow Leopard and the like.