Vista was supposed to lead a new era for Microsoft’s Windows operating systems, with its stylish aero graphical user interface and many security improvements. But while it has delivered a rather solid experience for many, it has also met with harsh criticism for its low hardware support, high system requirements, relatively poor performance, and in a nutshell for supposedly not making big enough improvements over Windows XP.

Despite Microsoft claiming that the upcoming Windows 7 isn’t even close to completion and insisting Vista will be around for a while, the software giant has already handed over a test version of their next-gen operating system to a technical committee that is overseeing Microsoft’s compliance with its antitrust settlement.

While the submission of Windows 7 to the technical committee doesn’t reveal much about the operating system, it does indicate how serious Microsoft is in getting its next client OS out the door. The company has talked up a 2010 release for Windows 7. That’s three years after Vista’s release, whereas the much-condemned Vista came more than five years after the introduction of its predecessor.