Microsoft isn’t going to show Windows 7 to attendees of the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles until Tuesday, October 28. But new info about what’s part of the pre-beta build that will be provided to show-goers is beginning to trickle out.

According to a variety of sources, the build that will be distributed at PDC and, a week-plus later, at the company’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) will be one of the M3 (Milestone 3) builds. Like the build that leaked in September, this will be a 6801 numbered build, sources say. But it doesn’t seem to be the same one I saw a few weeks back. UX Evangelist blogger Stephen Chapman says it will likely be a 6801 M3 build which Microsoft finalized on October 20.

So what’s in this soon-to-be-delivered Windows 7 pre-beta build? Here are a few new features Microsoft will provide, according to various individuals who’ve had a chance to see and hear about the forthcoming PDC pre-beta build. (Note: I didn’t bother running this list by Microsoft for official comment, as I figure the response will be: Wait till Tuesday.)


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* Device Stage – a central location for customers to more easily interact with devices, ranging from printers, cameras, cell phones, media players, etc. Device Stage will only recognize “Device-Stage-enabled” peripherals. According to additional info on Microsoft’s WinHEC site, “Device Stage is a new way for consumers to manage, explore, sync, print to, or do other common device-related tasks. (I wonder: Is this more than souped-up Plug and Play?)

* Action Center a self-diagnosis feature to help users troubleshoot problems with their Windows 7 systems

* StreamOn a way to control audio/video content on PCs and devices (Part of the next version of Windows Media Player? Or something to do with Live Mesh? I don’t have more info at this time.)

* A new animation framework for customizing animations (Is this akin to Apple’s Core Animation tool? I have no idea.)

* New task bar and shell integration (Hints of this emerged in the September M3 leak)

* Multi-touch and gesture recognition something Microsoft showed off earlier this year in an early Windows 7 preview

* Improved Bluetooth support (Not clear if this goes beyond the new level of Bluetooth support Microsoft is adding via Vista Service Pack 2)

* Ribbons, ribbons everywhere. As was evident in the leaked September M3 build, Microsoft is adding its Ribbon UI to the applets that are part of Windows 7.

I’m hearing Microsoft is going to show off a number of other features during the Tuesday PDC keynote that aren’t yet part of the pre-beta that is being distributed to attendees. (Internally, Microsoft already is working on builds post the M3 cut that it is delivering on the 160 GB external drives on which it is delivering the pre-beta Windows 7 bits.)

I’m also still hearing that Microsoft is on track to deliver a public beta of Windows 7 by mid-December this year, and final by next year. With Vista’s growth rates nothing to write home about, I’m sure Microsoft even with all of its quality controls has a lot of incentive to get Windows 7 out there sooner rather than later….

Anyone else hearing about any new Windows 7 features we’ll see later this week? I’m especially interested in what Microsoft is planning to deliver in Windows 7 for enterprise users, as most of these features are consumer-focused.