Microsoft, biggest IT giant, plans to release Windows 7 this year. It is also heard that things are on track to release by this year's holiday shopping season. Microsoft is also planning to offer Vista buyers a free or low-cost update to Windows 7. In an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Microsoft senior VP Bill Veghte cautioned that the release still could be pushed into 2010, depending on customer feedback. The response to test versions of Windows 7 has been in stark contrast with the issues that dogged Windows Vista, which was a much more fundamental update to the operating system. Although Windows 7 adds things like an improved task bar and snappier performance, the operating system shares most of the same underpinnings as Windows Vista. Microsoft has reiterated that it plans just a single beta for Windows 7. That beta launched in January and Microsoft this week stopped offering downloads of the test version. Earlier this month, Microsoft confirmed that it plans to sell at least six distinct versions of Windows 7, although it also said it will focus its efforts around two editions--Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional.