We have a date!
Speaking to journalists at ZDNet and Pocket-lint today Acer let the big one slip, not once but twice through two different representatives.
Talking to ZDNet Acer European President Massimo D'Angelo began the foot in mouth fun when discussing the company's new range of All In One PCs. In responding to the question of whether they would be ship with Microsoft's new OS he explained: "No, when it's in store it won't have Windows 7 pre-loaded. We won't be actually selling it a day before the 23rd October".
Perish the thought this could be considered ambiguous because Acer UK MD Bobby Watkins then told Pocket-lint: "23rd October is the date the Windows 7 will be available. There is a 30 day upgrade time so that customers don't wait to buy a new computer, so if you buy during that 30 day period, you'll get a free upgrade to Windows 7."
Pretty hard to make things any more unequivocal than that!
Naturally we've chased up Microsoft on this issue and been told the official Microsoft line is its in the process of putting together a statement but until then it will decline to comment. Which sounds like either a) Damn, the game's up - let's carefully word our fess up, or b) Let's move the date a few weeks either side and be able to issue a denial.
Either way, it seems highly unlikely such senior Acer execs would both have their information wrong so we expect this one to pan out. On a practical aside: Windows 7 beta testers, you might as well install the Release Candidate because it appears the final version will debut after the beta's 1 August expiry date.
Update: Microsoft has come back with a long comment that's essentially a no comment:
"On 30 April we made the Release Candidate (RC) of Windows 7 available for download to MSDN and TechNet subscribers. Windows 7 Release Candidate is a major business and engineering milestone, and indicates that the operating system is entering the final phases of development. Windows 7 RC is the result of feedback from millions of customers and partners around the world, and is ready for partners to develop and test applications, device drivers and services. As we have said for some time, we are committed to making Windows 7 available within three years of the General Availability of Windows Vista."
Thrilling, no? So 23 October it appears to be!