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Microsoft to offer 'special' Windows 7 upgrade deals

Company mum on details; reliable site says no free upgrades for netbooks, Vista Basic

June 3, 2009 06:23 AM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft on Tuesday confirmed that it will offer consumers "special deals" on an upgrade to Windows 7 if they buy a Vista-equipped PC before the launch of the new operating system.

Earlier in the day, Microsoft announced that it would start selling Windows 7 on Oct. 22, and acknowledged that it would have some kind of free or discounted upgrade offer in place before that.

But other than the name of the program -- "Windows 7 Upgrade Option" -- the company remained mum on the deal's details, including start and end dates, how much computer makers and retailers will charge for the upgrade, or even what versions of Windows Vista will be eligible.

"This program enables participating retailers and OEMs to offer a special deal to upgrade to Windows 7 for customers purchasing a qualifying PC," said company spokesman Brandon LeBlanc in a post to the Windows 7 blog Tuesday afternoon. More information, said LeBlanc, would be disclosed as the program's kick-off nears.

But Microsoft isn't the only source of information regarding the upgrade offer, which will probably resemble Vista Express Upgrade, a program that gave people who purchased Windows XP PCs free or inexpensive upgrades to Vista.

TechARP.com, a Web site that has a solid track record in pegging Microsoft plans, said as early as January that Microsoft would unveil an upgrade program for Windows 7. In April, TechARP reported that Microsoft had changed the name of the program to Windows 7 Upgrade Option, the same moniker the company used today.

In a long account last updated two weeks ago, TechARP spelled out what its OEM sources have revealed about the upgrade offer.

According to the site, PCs with a license for Vista Home Premium, Vista Business and Vista Ultimate purchased between June 26, 2009 and Jan. 31, 2010 will be eligible for a free or reduced-price Windows 7 upgrade.

Only "like-to-like upgrades" will be supported by the program, said TechARP, meaning that people who buy a PC with Vista Home Premium during the eligible period will be offered an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium. In the same fashion, Vista Business will be upgraded only to Windows 7 Professional, and Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate.

That leaves out Vista Home Basic, the lowest-priced edition available in most markets, including the U.S. "Windows Home Basic is not in scope for this program as there is no 'like' version of Windows 7 in mature markets," said the site.

Microsoft will make a Windows 7 Home Basic edition, but plans to sell it only in emerging markets. Some have wondered whether Microsoft is ditching Home Basic from the Windows 7 line in the U.S. because of the flak it caught, including the notorious "Vista Capable" class-action lawsuit, over that edition. That case, which has been suspended while the plaintiffs appeal a federal judge's ruling, accused Microsoft of misleading consumers in the run-up to the January 2007 release of Vista by marketing PCs as able to run Vista when the only version usable on the machines was the stripped-down Home Basic.



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