Couple of big Microsoft stories to close off the week...
For users the major news is the Windows 7 Release Candidate has finally been given an official release date: 5 May. MSDN and TechNet professionals will get it five days earlier on 30 April.
The 'RC' - as it is more commonly known - is a huge deal as it is the first version of the next generation operating system which Microsoft considers to be ready for final release. All the features will be locked down and other than perhaps the odd bug or tweak it should be what we get when Windows 7 launches sometime this summer. The big news here is the addition of remote media streaming (lookout Orb) and the inclusion of an 'XP Mode' which emulates the popular OS and should make older software run without a hitch.
For impatient types, both 32bit and 64bit versions of 'Build 7100' can already be found on tracker sites around the web including, yes, The Pirate Bay.
For corporate types and those unlucky enough to own shares in the current environment, the larger news will be the reporting of Microsoft's Q3 financial results. During the revenue for the quarter hit $13.65bn with net income of $4.44bn. Incredibly sales were down for the period - the first time this has happened in its 23 year history as a public company.
Microsoft also revealed a $290m cost related to the redundancies of more than 5,000 staff and $420m of impairments to investments.
When Windows 7 hits, expect things to turnaround - though the company is hardly struggling...!