Forget talk about next year. there are indications that Windows 7 may be available as soon as October.

Speaking at an Acer press launch, a company  representative was quoted as saying that a new Windows 7 PC called the Z5600 wouldl be one of the company's key products in the run up to the Christmas holiday period, and would be on store shelves on 23 October.

Microsoft has so far refused to commit to an exact release date for Windows 7, but speculation has suggested that the company would release it later this year, rather than early 2010 as some executives have been predicting. The operating system was made available as a beta in January and a release candidate (RC) is now with developers.

The Windows RC will be available to the public next week, and those who download it will be able to use it for free for a year.

The distribution of the RC is one of the last steps before the Windows 7 code is locked down and sent off to manufacturers ahead of its commercial release.