Ronald already caught this one in the 'bread, but it definitely deserves some extra attention. The guys at istartedsomething have noticed something very interesting on the website for Microsoft's WinHEC 2008 developer conference. Under the headline, "Get the Windows 7 Pre-Beta Build at WinHEC 2008," Microsoft states clearly, "there is not another WinHEC planned before Windows 7 is released."
WinHEC 2008 will take place on in early November, but previous events have typically occurred in the late spring. A quick Google search for "WinHEC 2009" yields this cached page of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, which includes a sign-up form for a WinHEC event in early May 2009. The form has since gone down, however.
We could chalk this up to a simple error on the WinHEC site, but this isn't the first mention of an earlier-than-expected Windows 7 release. A recent AMD presentation mentioned a 2009 release time frame for the operating system, and Asus CEO Jerry Shen stated in an interview that Windows 7-powered Eee PCs would show up in the second half of next year. Similar rumors have been making the rounds for a while, too.
So, could Microsoft really release Windows 7 to manufacturing before May 2009? That's a possibility, although it's also possible that WinHEC 2009 will take place later next year. Long Zheng at istartedsomething is betting on an October 2009 RTM date, and he says "ninjas at Microsoft" confirmed his estimate.