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Moving at what seems like warp speed compared to their usual software timeline, Microsoft [MSFT] has announced that it will seed developers with an alpha version of Windows 7 at its Professional Developers Conference, which takes place in Los Angeles from October 27-30. It was previously dubious that the company would give developers the alpha because the product has been so delayed thus far. 

The alpha release will put some pressure on the Redmond-based company, which has lately taken criticism for the perceived aloofness of its recent ad campaign. Releasing the alpha version to developers invites commentary on the new Windows version, specifically as it compares to Vista — failing to give out an alpha, by the same token, invites speculation that the product is far behind its target launch date.

While MSFT claims the software will be ready to roll out in pre-beta come the end of October, they've given few other details about the operating system, except to say that it will feature updates "across the full range" of the software: kernel, networking, hardware, devices and user interface improvements are all expected.