Short of confirming the date leaked by Acer, Microsoft has finally announced a clear(er) release time frame for Windows 7. The company's latest press release states quite plainly, "[Microsoft] is anticipating that the next version of its client operating system, Windows 7, will be available to customers in time for the holiday shopping season."
Today's announcement also says the Windows Server 2008 R2 release candidate is available, and that the full release should go gold "in the same timeframe as Windows 7."
Company executives had previously expressed uncertainty about the possibility of a holiday release. Windows executive Bill Veghte said in January, "It could go either way . . . We will ship it when the quality is right, and earlier is always better, but not at the cost of ecosystem support and not at the cost of quality."
Meanwhile, Acer executives stated quite openly last week that Windows 7 would be out on October 23, coinciding with the release of an Acer all-in-one PC. Today's announcement doesn't preclude that date, of course. But since Microsoft continues to shy away from announcing a specific date, there could be room for schedule adjustments.