Windows Vista could potentially be the an 'intermediary' Windows like Windows ME after Microsoft confirmed that Windows Seven, its successor, would be out by 2010.
Vista, which was released back in January 2007, could be sidelined only 3 years after it was introduced; in comparison, Windows XP had a lifespan of more than five years.
Softpedia saw leaked data which points to the impending release of Windows Seven Milestone 1 and they received an email from a Microsoft spokesperson who said "We are currently in the planning stages for Windows 7 and development is scoped to three years from Windows Vista Consumer GA. The specific release date will be determined once the company meets its quality bar for release"
In other words, end 2009 is the target date with a potential 2010 release the worst case scenario, given Microsoft's commitment to a three year development cycle.
US Antitrust regulators have also been given the heads up by Microsoft who provided them with a copy of the OS to play with; according to a status report filed late in February with US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly - the same CKK judge who oversaw most of the Microsoft vs United States anti-trust case back in the early 2000's.
Microsoft will, this time around, be under scrutiny - from the US Government and the Tech industry - more than ever before after Vista's less than stellar performance.