Microsoft’s hardware and software partners will receive copies of Windows 7 RTM starting Aug 16 or Aug 23 2009, depending on which partner program they’re assigned. OEMs or original equipment manufacturers in other words, computer makers will have Windows 7 in hand approximately two days after Microsoft’s announcement.

Volume licensing customers, normally large organizations and companies will be able to grab Windows 7 RTM starting Aug 7 if they have an existing Software Assurance plan or if they do not have they will have it on Sept 1.

LeBlanc also confirmed that Microsoft will sell a three-license “family pack” upgrade from earlier editions of the OS to Windows 7 Home Premium, but did not flesh out that notice with pricing or timing information. Reports have circulated for two weeks that Microsoft would reprise the multi-license upgrade pack it offered for Windows Vista; at least one reseller has posted the suggested list price as $149.99 on its Web site.

Microsoft will likely announce that Windows 7 has reached release to manufacturing (RTM) status on Wednesday. An analyst with directions on Microsoft Michael Cherry said that RTM almost seems like a non-event and also stressed that he had no special knowledge of when Microsoft would declare Windows 7 finished. But it’s got to be any day now. The company earlier pledge that it would move the new operating system into its final pre-sale phase, sometime in the second half of July 2009. The importance of RTM has ebbed since Windows Vista.

Consumers and other customers will have their first shot at Windows 7 on its official launch day Oct. 22 2009.

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