A strange quote from Bill Gates today as he claims the next version of Windows, code-named Windows 7, is going to be released "sometime in the next year or so." That's way ahead of the previous estimates, which claimed Windows 7 was not going to be released in 2009 at all, but somewhere in 2010 or 2011.
A Microsoft flack covered for Bill by saying that a 2009 "release" was in line with their development cycle, and that test versions are usually put out before the actual release—which is totally not what we think Bill meant when he said "release". What you should take away from this whole mess is that a development release is coming in 2009 (or so), and Bill Gates probably shouldn't be making statements without checking with his people.
Next year would be rather too early for a new version of Windows to come out.