Windows 7 will ship October 22

Microsoft will ship Windows 7 to customers worldwide on Oct. 22, the company said Tuesday.

At the same time the company will offer an upgrade service called the Windows Upgrade Option to current Windows users, Microsoft said. More details about that program will be revealed during a keynote by Microsoft Corporate Vice President Steve Guggenheimer at Computex in Taipei Wednesday.

Microsoft previously said it would release both the consumer and business versions of Windows 7 in time for the year-end holiday shopping season. A release candidate of the OS already has been distributed through Microsoft's update service and has gotten generally positive reviews by users.

Windows 7 is the follow up to Windows Vista, which overall has been a disappointment for Microsoft and not very popular with business users or consumers.

Microsoft has said all versions of Windows 7 will run on PCs and notebooks as well as increasingly popular netbooks, which currently are running either Windows XP or Linux because Vista's hardware footprint was too big to run reliably on them.

Microsoft's announcement comes a week before Apple’s annual developer conference, where the Mac maker plans to give its developers a final preview release of Snow Leopard, the next major update to Mac OS X.

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