Microsoft may release Windows 7 beta at show

Attendees at next month's annual Consumer Electronics Show could get the first public look at Windows 7.

Attendees at next month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) could get the first public look at Windows 7, the next version of Microsoft's client OS.

At its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in October, Microsoft said it would release the beta early in 2009. Though nothing has been confirmed, signs are pointing to sometime in January and possibly the CES show in Las Vegas as a likely release date. CES is scheduled for Jan. 8-11.

A member of Microsoft's public relations team in the U.K. said in an e-mail that at the show, "Microsoft will be making some significant announcements including Windows 7." She did not specify exactly what the news around the OS would be. But several blogs have reported that beta testers are expecting a Windows 7 beta any day.

Furthermore, Microsoft wrote on a Web site for its Microsoft Developer Network Conferences (MDCs) that attendees of those conferences, some of which are scheduled for mid-January, can expect a Windows 7 beta DVD.

Some of the MDCs were this month and the site gave Microsoft an out if the beta wasn't released in December, saying that "the DVD will be shipped to attendees when it becomes available." A Windows 7 beta was not released at those conferences, and the next MDCs are scheduled for Jan. 13 in Chicago and Minneapolis.

Microsoft expects to release Windows 7 in early 2010, although some industry observers expect it may be out by the end of 2009 because of lackluster customer response to Windows Vista. Many business customers in particular have opted to skip Vista and run XP until Windows 7 is available.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

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