The rumor mill is buzzing over the purported news that Windows 7 has been released to manufacturing. Long Zheng has gone so far as to put an emphatic YES on his new website: http://haswindows7rtmed.com
As evidence, he (and others) cite the presence on several underground file-sharing sites of Windows 7 build 7600.16384.090710-1945.
A little history might help put this build number (and the accompanying speculation) in perspective.
Start by reading this post from Microsoft’s James O’Neill, written in 2006, during a time of similarly feverish speculation about the ship date for a release candidate of Windows Vista:
Builds from here are suffixed .16384 (interesting number) and the build date, if a minor change is made the build becomes .16385, 16386 etc.
Now skip ahead a month or two in Vista’s release cycle for another numerology-influenced post from the same source, which explains the “interesting number” comment from earlier:
The minor build number … is 16384, which normally indicates a build we think we may release…
Last week, Larry Osterman, who has been at Microsoft for more than 20 years, wrote a fascinating post entitled “Thinking about Windows Build Numbers.” The whole thing is worth reading, but I was most interested in the ending:
For Windows 7, we’ve also seen a number of jumps in build numbers. The PDC build was build 6801, the Beta build was 7000 and the RC build was 7100. It’ll be interesting to see what the final build number will be (whenever that happens). I honestly have no idea what the number’s going to be.
We now know the answer to that question. On July 10, a Windows 7 build number appears that has leaped to the nice round number 7600, followed by 16384. To repeat what I just quoted above, that “normally indicates a build we think we may release…”
But it doesn’t mean that build has passed its full round of tests. Nor does it forestall the possibility that additional builds might follow in the sequence. Impossible, you say? Let’s get in the wayback machine and go back to October 31, 2006. Neowin, take it away:
A source close to Microsoft has confirmed to me that Windows Vista will in fact carry the build number 6.0.6000. He found this out by receiving a mail with the build stamp "Microsoft Windows Mail 6.0.6000.16384" so that ends that speculation.
16384? That’s an interesting number, isn’t it? The Neowin post was updated shortly thereafter:
Several key Microsoft employees has [sic] firmly stated that Vista has not been released to manufacturing. The day might be soon, but is certainly not today, or tomorrow. There’s still a bit more work to do. Build 6000.16384 is real, but it also doesn’t mean RTM. These days, Microsoft doesn’t have to increase the major version number when building, so theoretically, any sub-set of build 6000 (6000.16385, 16386, etc…) can be RTM.
Indeed, the final build of Windows Vista was 6.0.6000.16386. It was date-stamped November 2, 2006 and wasn’t officially announced until November 8. You can still see traces of that build number today when you look at the details of some Windows Vista system files.
Anyway, back to Windows 7. My buddy Dwight Silverman heard the same rumor about Windows 7, asked for confirmation, and got a flat denial:
A Microsoft spokesman told me this afternoon that no, a final build has not been declared for Windows 7, and it has not been released to manufacturing.
In fact, the latest official word from Microsoft is buried in the text of last week’s press release announcing that Steven Sinofsky was being promoted to President of the Windows division and that Tami Reller is taking on Windows marketing responsibilities, replacing Bill Veghte:
The transition between Reller and Veghte is timed to take place in late July when Windows 7 reaches the release to manufacturing (RTM) milestone. [emphasis added]
There’s no doubt that the end game has begun for the Windows 7 release process. But the actual date is still up in the air.
Oh, and PS: A belated congratulations to Steven Sinofsky for a well-deserved promotion.