Microsoft’s highly anticipated Windows 7, which needs to be great to make up for Vista ill will, will launch on new PCs October 22. Consumers who buy Vista PCs close to the date of Windows 7’s launch will receive a "technology guarantee," allowing them to receive a free or discounted version of the new operating system. The OS was originally slated for a 2010 rollout, but Microsoft recently announced that it would have the product available by the holiday season.

The Redmond, WA, company announced today that Windows 7’s code has been finalized and that it will be sent to manufacturing in July.

Five versions of the operating system will ship in most markets: Starter Edition, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. In addition, Home Basic will ship in developing countries.

With PC shipments slumping, it’s not an ideal time to launch a new operating system, but the tech industry hopes Windows 7 will help drive holiday sales.

The OS’s beta has gotten generally positive reviews from testers.

By Mark Alvarez