Microsoft has admitted there will be a Windows 7 family pack, while revealing it planned a phased release of the client's code ahead of October's official launch.
The company has also hinted strongly at a release-to-manufacturing date for Windows 7 of August 6.
TechNet and MSDN subscribers will be able to download English-language versions of the RTM code on August 6, the company said Tuesday.
OEMs will get their copies of the code two days after RTM, Windows 7 evangelist Brandon LeBlanc blogged.
LeBlanc did not name the RTM date, but he did say OEMs will get code after online availability because of the time it will take to release and distribute the images.
That indicates RTM will be on August 6 as developers generally get code first via download instead of waiting for a disk to arrive.
The president of Microsoft's Windows division, Steven Sinofsky, said in May that RTM would take place following feedback on the current Windows 7 release candidate code.
RTM is when the operating system is considered finished, and mass-production begins with code pressed on CDs and code sent to OEMs for installation on new PCs.
Once code has been released, customers on volume licenses and with Software Assurance subscriptions will get RTM code on August 7, while those without SA can get the code on September 1. That's also the date when discounts of between 15 and 35 per cent will kick in for customers without a SA subscription.
Microsoft partner program gold-certified partners and Action Pack subscribers will be the next tranche of recipients, getting English-language versions of the code on August 16.
The next big date will be October 1, when non English-language versions of Windows 7 will be made available.
The official launch is scheduled for October 22.
LeBlanc also confirmed Microsoft does indeed plan a family pack for installation on up to three PCs but that it will only be available in selected markets.
LeBlanc noted the pack followed feedback from beta testers and enthusiasts during the last three years that "we need a better solution for homes with multiple PCs".
He supplied no further information on the family pack, but based on what we've seen already, you should expect to pay $149.99 for the three-license pack.
Microsoft launched a Windows Vista Family Discount Program on January 30, 2007 that let home users buy two further licenses for $50 for use on home machines.
The program was panned by customers. ®