Microsoft's Bill Gates said on Friday he expects the latest Windows operating system, code-named Windows 7, to be released "sometime in the next year or so".
The software giant has been aiming to issue more regular updates of the operating system software that powers the majority of the world's PCs. Nevertheless, Gates' comments suggest a successor to Vista might be released sooner than was generally expected.
"That'll be sometime in the next year or so that we'll have a new version," Gates said.
Microsoft has said it expects to release a new version of Windows approximately three years after the introduction of Vista in January 2007. A company spokeswoman said Gates' comments are in line with a development cycle that usually releases a test version of the software before its official introduction.
Gates also said new versions of Windows would help revolutionise mobile phones and run the desk of the future, which would have a touch surface display allowing users to call up items using their hands.