Microsoft still says that early 2010 is the official date for shipping Windows 7, but an internal Microsoft memo hints that the date is more likely to be sometime in 2009, possibly in the third quarter.
The site Tech ARP prints what appears to be a memo from Microsoft detailing a "Windows 7 Upgrade Program" that lets PC makers give free upgrades to Windows 7 for customers who buy Vista machines as of July 1.
Users will get free upgrades to their Vista equivalent version of Windows 7. In other words, Windows Vista Home Premium customers get an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows Vista Business customers get an upgrade to Windows 7 Professional, and Windows Vista Ultimate customers get an upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate.
Why do I think this memo means Windows 7 will ship in 2009? It's hard for me to imagine that Microsoft or PC makers expect people to buy a new PC with the right to upgrade to Windows 7, and then not get that upgrade for six or more months. Consumers would rightly feel as if they were promised something they never really got. So I'm assuming that within within two or three months of the July 1 date, Windows 7 will ship.
By the way, note something missing in the Microsoft offer? There's no mention of Windows Vista Home Basic. It's not clear whether that means there won't be a Windows 7 Home Basic, or whether Microsoft assumes no one will be buying that version of the operating system by July, 2009.
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