The successor to Windows Vista may hit Beta status before the turn of the year, according to this report from ZDNet.
Whilst privileged few have worked with Microsoft on two milestone builds, namely M1 and M2, M3 will precede an actual Beta version of the OS which Microsoft hopes will repair Vista's poor image.
It isn't to say that there won't be some form of pre-beta build, such as a Community Technology Preview and, indeed, attendees of WinHEC in November will undoubtedly be hoping that Microsoft delivers some goods.
Yet, having said this, December does appear to be the month for the Beta process to commence according to unnamed sources.
Such a turn of events could theoretically put general availability of Windows 7, as it is currently known, in the late 2009 or early 2010 time frame.