Here's how LeBlanc describes the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) process:
What happens is a build gets designated as a RTM contender after going through significant testing and meeting our quality bar for RTM. Then, it goes though all the validation checks required for RTM including having all languages of that build completed. If all the validation checks have passed – sign-off for RTM can occur. Today after all the validation checks were met, we signed off and declared build 7600 as RTM.
LeBlanc adds that Microsoft will deliver the completed operating system to its partners "within the next few days," so they can prepare for the retail release on October 22. The blogger also takes a moment to thank folks who grabbed the Windows 7 beta and RC and contributed bug reports. More than 10 million people opted in to the Customer Experience Improvement Program, he says.
Windows Server 2008 R2, the server-bound variant of Windows 7, has also hit RTM status. A post on the Windows Server Division blog notes that the milestone occurred "in lock-step" with the Windows 7 RTM.