Well, it appears that a copy of Windows 7 has leaked out onto the internet, well in advance of its expected beta next month. In a story at internet news, a couple relevant things came up. First, that Windows 7 is expected to get a big showcase at next month's CES show during CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote speech (WMExperts will be there live, of course).

Second, the article quotes technology consultant Roger Kay, of Endpoint Technologies consultancy, as thinking that the next Windows Mobile version may be a smaller footprint version of Windows 7. Quoting from the article, "Kay thinks Microsoft may actually be looking to take a page from Apple's book and make it's OS small enough to work in a mobile device."

Oh Holy Internet, protect us from consultants and analysis such as this. The idea that Microsoft would abandon the significant amount of work they've put into Windows CE (the core of Windows Mobile) would be difficult to swallow even if Windows CE were a terrible platform. In fact, it's pretty darn good. Perhaps Kay was confused by the the "Windows" part of "Windows Mobile" and for your general consumer, we are honestly sympathetic. Frankly, Microsoft's decision to call it "Windows Mobile" seems custom-designed to foment this kind of confusion (and we agree it's not ideal). For for somebody who might be mistaken as an authority to make such a mixup, well, it's painful to watch.

The target ship date for Windows 7 is expected to be the first quarter of 2010, so one hopes that Windows Mobile will see some significant changes in the interim. Yet the idea that Windows Mobile 7 will be a miniature version of Windows 7 is just wrongheaded. (Right?)