If this is true, it looks like we'll be able to bypass Vista entirely...
According to TG Daily, multiple 'industry sources' have confirmed that early versions of Windows 7 - codenamed 'Blackcomb Vienna' - are already being shipped to 'key partners' for validation and Microsoft has bold plans to release the operating system as soon as H2 2009.
Apparently available in x86 and x64 editions, Blackcomb Vienna ships with a new version of Media Center and - intriguingly - a newfound ability to handle multiple graphics cards from different vendors (nVidia, ATI/AMD combo, anyone?!).
Of course at this stage very little is known about Windows 7, though senior Microsoft OS designer Eric Traut demonstrated a radically streamlined internal build in October (above) which required just 25MB for installation and used a mere 40MB of RAM. That said, if Windows 7 is going to come anywhere close to being the operating system Vista was initially touted to be it's going to bulk up substantially more than that.
TG Daily goes on to say that a second Vienna release is planned from April / May 2008 and a third sometime in Q3.
This all sounds marvellous to us and indeed Microsoft has said it plans to shorten the waiting time between its OS generations, but given the company's recent track record don't get too excited just yet...