Microsoft has revealed that it is prepping Windows 7 - its next operating system after Vista - to launch in time for Christmas 2009.

The revelation came from Microsoft director Doug Howe during a presentation in a technical session in the States.

CNet reports that "Howe essentially confirmed that Microsoft is aiming Windows 7 for the holidays".

Microsoft has been guarded about the launch timescale for the new OS, thought to be for several reasons - not wanting to damage Vista sales and not wanting the bad PR that would result from a delay to the planned debut.

Officially, Microsoft says that Windows 7 will ship within 3 years of the January 2007 consumer release of Windows Vista.