Microsoft forecasts, on Oct 22, 2009 Windows 7 will be launched as retail OS. Like Vista it will be available in six versions: Starter, Home, Premium, Professional, Business, Ultimate.
Starter edition will not be available as retail and mainly targeted for netbooks and low end PCs.
It is interesting to see what versions be targeted in European countries specially when Europe has raised objections on inclusion of IE. Certainly 32-bit and 64-bit editions certainly confuse the customer. It will add sibling competition among Win7 flavours rather competing with linux or Mac OS/X. On economic front the global recession will play its own cards too, something Steve Balmer may be worrying about :)
It is almost certain the infamous UAC will remain there. It is claimed there is an improved boot performance, multi-core support and kernel enhancements. It is equally interesting to see what are the significant contributions made by "windows internals" guy, Mark Russinovich who joined Microsoft two years back.
The hand writing recognition and multi-touch interface features are targeted to boost laptop sales. The next big war between Microsoft and Apple is who provides the better mutli-touch interface.
On developer front, Win XP is still the better choice as development platform. One has to see what sort of improvements will be provided by Microsoft in Visual Studio for Win 7.