According to a statement from IT research company Gartner Windows 7 is just three short years away from fruition. In response to an enquiry following a CNET News story reporting a sales meeting of the Seattle software giants where the three year figure was supposedly mentioned, Gartner cites a Microsoft spokesperson as confirming that the company is "scoping Windows 7 development to a three year time frame." Gartner further states that Microsoft went on to qualify this by adding "the specific release date will ultimately be determined by meeting the quality bar."
Although the Microsoft disclosure is not copied in its full unedited glory, Gartner does reveal that there will be 32 and 64-bit versions, and that it will be a full, kosher release rather than just a service pack.
From this it deduces that Microsoft either does not know what Windows 7 will be, or does not want to publically comment on it as of yet. I suspect that both deductions are not mutually exclusive and the truth is a mixture of the two. Three years in OS software development is worth at least two weeks in mixed political metaphors.
While Gartner use this as an advice springboard for enterprise users not to hold back in plans to deploy Vista, and continue to do so between the end of this year and the middle of next. Warning that "they should remember that if they target Windows 7 as their next OS instead of Vista, they will likely be waiting until mid-2011 — 12 to 18 months after Windows 7 ships — before they will be able to begin replacing Windows XP" Gartner points out that this would leave only three years before official XP support is likely to vanish.
I sort of agree, but would say to enterprise and consumer users alike: why bother upgrading to Vista at all, when what you have got works perfectly well anyway? There is not always a need to move to the latest and shiniest of everything, and operating systems are no different. Do not be rushed into an upgrade, at any end of the deployment spectrum.