Microsoft Windows OEM manager Laurence Painell told PC Pro that the company plans a "couple of additional, quite major announcements" at the time it releases Windows 7 RC. The Release Candidate will likely ship in May, though Microsoft has yet to formally confirm a date.
Painell did not provide further details about the announcements.
One possibility is that Microsoft may announce a release date for the final version of Windows 7 at the same time it ships the Release Candidate.
A memo appeared briefly last week on Microsoft's TechNet Web site revealing that the company is eyeing May for the release of Windows 7 RC.
The memo noted that Windows 7 RC will be available through June and that Microsoft plans to make an unlimited number of download keys available to users who want to kick the tires on the operating system and provide feedback.
If Microsoft is following a timetable similar to that employed for Vista development, then it's highly possible that the company is eyeing a September release date for Windows 7.
The first version of Windows Vista RC dropped in September 2006, about five months before the final version shipped. A similar five-month incubation period for Windows 7 RC would point to a commercial release in September -- possibly in time for the critical back-to-school shopping season.
Microsoft needs Windows 7 to be a hit. Vista, the company's current OS, has failed to catch on with mainstream computer users while businesses have shunned it outright. Many users have complained about Vista's hardware requirements, intrusive security measures, and lack of compatibility with older applications.