Windows 7 Officially Released to Manufacturing: No Going Back NowS

Probably not much of a surprise at this point, but right about now, Steve Ballmer is telling a roomful of people that Windows 7's been released to manufacturing. If you're using RC1, congratulations, you've basically got the final product already.

There are no new features, crazy backgrounds or easter eggs—or changes approaching anywhere near major, just some "specific" fixes based on actual measurements and data.

What's interesting is that with the final hardware completely locked in—like, even more than when they were officially announced, since it's too late to change anything now—it's the first major Windows release to not require at double the specs of the preceding Windows OS, a fact that Microsoft is proud of. Make of that what you will! (And oh, I'm sure you will.)

Speaking of hardware—expect a wave of it to drop with Windows 7—like a lot of the "thin and light" more-expensive-than-a-netbook stuff Intel's been hyping, though some of it sounds genuinely exciting, like capacitive touchscreen notebook running Nvidia's Ion.

The arrival of Windows 7 probably won't be Christmas in October with Santa Ballmer, but it sounds like it'll be the best month for PC makers in a long time. [Microsoft, Image via Brandon LeBlanc]