The first pre-beta version of Windows 7 will be in the hands of developers next month, Microsoft has confirmed.

Speculation that Microsoft was preparing to hand out early versions of Windows 7 began in August, when the software giant revealed that developers would get their first peek at Windows 7 in October, with the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) looking the likely event for the operating system's first official demonstration.

Now, Microsoft blogger Dan Fernandez has confirmed the rumour, revealing that every PDC attendee will get a pre-beta build of Windows 7 on an external USB 2.0 drive.

The successor to Windows Vista will also be covered in 21 PDC sessions, with developers expected to be shown improvements to the Windows kernel, networking, and user-interface. The sessions will also cover energy efficiency; graphics systems; building communication applications; documents and printing convergence; new APIs to find, visualise and organize; new text and graphics APIs; the operating system's design principals; and APIs for building context-aware applications.

Microsoft plans to ship the final version of Windows 7 in January 2010.

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