First , on the RTM release of Windows 7:
Microsoft has finalised the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 code and released it to manufacturing.
The announcement, made on Wednesday, marks the last engineering stage for both products before their scheduled release to the public on 22 October. Microsoft has spent nine months working on Windows 7 and the Windows Server update since demonstrating them at its Professional Developer Conference last year.
There is very little difference between the RTM (released it to manufacturing) versions and the release candidates that have been widely available since May, according to Microsoft executives who took part in a conference call about the announcement.
"Frankly, we didn't anticipate any major changes, and that's proven to be true", said Rich Reynolds, general manager for Windows commercial marketing. "The code is ready for the masses".
And then, on the Windows 7 family pack, and the fact that it may not make it to the UK (where I get to share a byline with CNet's Ina Fried):
Microsoft plans to offer a 'family pack' for Windows 7 that can be used on up to three PCs in the US, but is not sure whether it will be sold in the UK.
The software maker acknowledged it would sell the bundle, which allows three installations of the Home Premium version of the operating system, in a blog post on Tuesday. However, in a conference call on the release to manufacturing of Windows 7 on Wednesday, Microsoft executives acknowledged that the family pack may not be released in Europe, including the UK.
"We're evaluating that, to see how attractive it will be to the market and how effective, as it's been designed for upgrades, and in Europe we will be having the 'E' versions, which are full versions," John Curran, director of the Windows Client group at Microsoft UK, said in the call.