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Making a wager on Windows 7

It's 5 pm PST, and soon Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will take to the stage to kick off the Consumer Electronics Show, something his old friend Bill Gates did for years before his retirement. Ballmer is widely expected to announce a public beta of Windows 7, a rumor helped by the fact it's already leaked.

I'm going to go one better and put something on the record before the fact: I think he'll announce the availability of Windows 7 this year, whether it's June 3 as I first reported last September, or in July, or whenever. The signs are there:

  • The Windows 7 beta is reportedly in great shape.
  • Windows XP has had its lifespan extended to May again.
  • Customers who buy a PC after July will get a free Windows 7 migration.

Most important, the channel is hurting. I'm talking Detroit Lions hurting. Intel just ruined everyone's day. What else could goose sales and generate excitement, at least for the second half of the year (back to school, Christmas) then a vastly improved new operating system from Microsoft?

Ballmer will have his biggest audience of the year tonight. This is the time to say it. I have no sources. Just a hunch, the fact that my original source has been proven right on everything up to now, and a bit of applied reasoning. We'll see if it's so.

UPDATE: FAIL. Good grief. I had no idea that Ballmer would try to outdo Phil Schiller of Apple in a disappointing, underwhelming keynote. One more CES keynote like that and the crowd will be clamoring to bring Bill back.

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