According to ZDNet, anonymous sources close to Microsoft have claimed that Beta 1 of Windows 7 should be out sometime in mid to late December. Also, it seems likely because of a December release, those who attend Microsoft’s tech conferences in the coming months (Professional Developers Conference in October and Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in November), might not get that early look at the beta they were hoping for. While the beta seems to be several months off, a small and select group of users have been privy to the two Milestone builds of Windows 7, with a third build supposedly on the way.
If we do see a beta in December, it would make the supposed late-2009 release of Windows 7 look much more realistic, given that the new "major release" OS would have about 12 months as an official beta. However, it would not be a total surprise if he release got pushed to early 2010. A wide release beta will likely happen whenever the expected features of Windows 7 are complete. This will more than likely include Internet Explorer 8, Windows Media Center, a possible "superbar" and updates to old favorites like WordPad, Paint, and the taskbar.
One of the more skeptical features of the new OS is the goal of a 15-second boot time. With current mainstream technology, and even looking forward to the next one or two hardware development cycles, this seems unlikely. However, if something like Intel’s Turbo Memory were to become more popular, we could see more software take advantage of having anywhere from 1GB of flash or more to play with. With Turbo Memory available in a myriad of laptops (but not nearly as many desktops), it wouldn’t be a total shock to see Microsoft take full advantage of this extra memory in the future.
As far as betas go, Windows 7 shouldn’t be any different from previous endeavors. According to Windows Customer Engineering program manager Christina Storm, "we will also be collecting feedback from this (Windows Feedback) panel and asking for participation from a set of Windows 7 beta users. Our current plans call for signing up for the beta to happen in the standard Microsoft manner on http://connect.microsoft.com." So for those of you who want the earliest glimpse of Windows 7 possible, keep hitting F5 on the Microsoft Connect site.