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Microsoft: Windows 7 launches 22 October

Good news, everyone: Windows 7 will drop on to store shelves on 22 October this year, Microsoft has confirmed

It's official: Windows 7 will appear on store shelves on 22 October this year. Regular readers will remember an October release date was leaked by an Acer exec last month, which our buddy David Meyer on ZDNet UK witnessed at a press conference. But now -- finally -- Microsoft has confirmed a precise mark on the calendar.

All retail versions of the new OS will be available in the UK at the same time as the US. We put in a call to Microsoft this morning to talk about pricing, but a spokesperson couldn't discuss anything yet. No big surprise there, but rumour has it Windows 7 may end up costing more than Windows Vista does at the moment.

MS has also confirmed, however, that Vista customers will be eligible to take advantage of the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Programme, which "will be similar to previous upgrade programmes". This means if you buy Vista after 26 June 2009, you'll get Windows 7 for free or for very little. More details on this are expected soon.

We've been following Windows 7's development closely and have a mountain of coverage. Check out the top ten new features in Windows 7 for a visual tour of what's to come, and don't miss our chronologically ordered timeline of coverage of Windows 7 since it was announced.