Gates suggests Windows 7 could be ready by 2009

An admission that Vista needs replacing, or just a slip of the tongue?

Outgoing Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has said that he foresees the next generation of the Windows OS – generally referred to as Windows 7 – being launched “sometime in the next year or so”.

His admission came as part of a speech about corporate philanthropy at the annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank in Miami. Answering a question from the floor, he said that Microsoft would have a new version “sometime in the next year”.

Bill Gates is superenthused

While Gates claimed to be “superenthused” at what the next Windows OS will do, his comments also hinted at a hasty departure from the official policy of giving Microsoft products a three-year shelf-life.

Microsoft has previously said that it expected to release a new OS approximately three years after Vista’s launch in 2007. While it could be that Gates was referring to a beta version of Windows 7 in his speech, it could also be that Microsoft plans to roll out the next version earlier to arrest the lack of love generally afforded to Vista.