There are just three more development milestones left out of the development process of Windows 7, following the first three.
At the end of 2007 Microsoft made available Milestone 1, while M2 and M3 were delivered in 2008, the last of which offered to all attendees at the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles the past week. In the opening keynote address at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president, Windows and Windows Live Engineering Group revealed the path that Windows 7 would take to reach RTM stage, which you will be able to see via the image included with this article.
Following the three core development milestones, Windows 7 is now in pre-beta stage, Build 6801. In this context, Sinofsky indicated that the next step in the building of Windows 7 was to deliver the fully fledged beta. According to the chief of Windows Engineering, the milestone will be a broad beta, which means that Windows 7 Beta will in fact be made available to an increased pool of testers, but not to the general public.
Sinofsky stressed the fact that the Windows 7 Beta bits that would be made broadly available would deliver the feature-complete version of the operating system. However, no additional details related to the delivery deadline were offered beyond pointing to the early 2009 for availability. Sinofsky's advice was that users keep an eye on the Engineering 7 blog and the Windows page dedicated to Windows 7 on Microsoft.com for additional details about the successor of Windows Vista.
The top dog when it comes down to Windows 7 engineering made no reference whatsoever to other potential Beta releases. In this context it looks like Windows 7 Beta 1 will be followed directly by the Release Candidate build of the operating system. Between Beta and RC, Microsoft plans to integrate all the user feedback on Windows 7 into the development process. At the same time, Sinofsky pointed out that Windows 7 would be released to manufacturing straight out of RC.