Windows 7 Slated for January 2010: Microsoft

Buried in the letter which Bill Veghte, senior vice president of the Online Services & Windows Business group sent to Windows customers earlier this week, which re-affirmed that XP is pretty much gone after June 30th (with a few exceptions, more later), was a note that indicated that customers wanted a "more regular, predictable Windows release schedule." Based on that, he said the following:

Some of you may have heard about "Windows 7", which is the working name for the next release of Microsoft Windows. We have learned a great deal through the feedback you have shared with us about Windows Vista and that feedback is playing an important role in our work on Windows 7. You have told us you want a more regular, predictable Windows release schedule.

To this end, our plan is to deliver Windows 7 approximately 3 years after the January 2007 general availability launch date of Windows Vista. You've also let us know you don't want to face the kinds of incompatibility challenges with the next version of Windows you might have experienced early with Windows Vista. As a result, our approach with Windows 7 is to build off the same core architecture as Windows Vista so the investments you and our partners have made in Windows Vista will continue to pay off with Windows 7. Our goal is to ensure the migration process from Windows Vista to Windows 7 is straightforward.
Some of this is the same message which has been stated previously by Microsoft: since Windows 7 will build on Vista, you shouldn't wait for Vista. Basically they're saying, "if you're going to have problems, you might as well get them out of the way now as Windows 7 will have the same issues."

However, based on the fact that the same email outlined that Windows XP support for security and critical updates will continue until 2014, and that there are ways to still get XP, will businesses choose to skip Vista entirely?

Obviously corporations aren't going to be buying nettops or netbooks, which will still ship with XP, but volume license agreements (VLAs) mean that those businesses can continue to install XP. Additionally, for consumers and those without VLAs, the "downgrade rights" program will allow Vista Ultimate and Business users to get XP shipped with their computer - and at least in the case of Dell and HP, even get XP pre-installed (pre-downgraded, so to speak). Of course, "downgrade rights" expire on Jan. 31, 2009, but that won't affect corporations.

So, did we finally get the go-ahead from Microsoft that Vista is "skippable?"