Bill Gates has told journalists that Microsoft's next OS could arrive sooner than anticipated.

Speaking at the Inter-American Development Bank, Microsoft's big boss told the audience: "Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version".

The report on from the speech does not, however, make it clear whether Gates was referring to the full commercial launch of the new operating system or merely a beta version.

It has already been widely reported that a test version of Windows 7 was sent to the US government last month.

Microsoft had previously implied that Windows 7 would launch 3 years after the 2007 release of Vista.

While Gates did not reveal any details of what features we can expect from Windows 7, he did say: "I'm super-enthused about what it will do in lots of ways".