Microsoft details free Windows 7 upgrade deal
HP only major vendor so far to promise no-charge upgrade, more expected
Computerworld - Microsoft Corp. today officially unveiled details of the Windows 7 upgrade program it kicks off tomorrow for buyers of new PCs.
Called the "Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program," the deal provides free or nearly-free upgrades to Windows 7 for people who purchase a new Vista PC between June 26, 2009, and Jan. 31, 2010.
People who buy a PC equipped with Windows Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate from a participating retailer or computer maker will get an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional or Ultimate at some point after Oct. 22, when Microsoft is scheduled to ship the new operating system.
The program is a repeat of one Microsoft launched in 2006, when it sought to keep sales of XP systems from stalling by offering users free upgrades to the soon-to-be-available Vista.
"The Windows upgrade option for Windows 7 is something that we're bringing back from the Windows Vista era," Brad Brooks, vice president for Windows consumer marketing, said in an Microsoft-conducted interview posted on the company's site.
Because of its October launch, Windows 7 won't be available during the back-to-school sales season, which really cranks up in August. And that's one reason why Microsoft chose to introduce the upgrade program so early. "You don't have to wait until [Oct. 22] to get a new Windows PC," Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc said today in a blog post trumpeting the program. "In fact, we know many people need that new PC sooner -- for back to school, specifically." Microsoft won't charge retailers and OEMs for the upgrade, but it has ceded control over the fulfillment process, letting the sellers set fees.
Hewlett-Packard Co., for instance, said today that it will provide the Windows 7 upgrade to eligible customers free of charge. "There are no shipping and handling fees," said an HP spokeswoman. An HP page dedicated to the Upgrade Option, however, didn't offer any details today on how the company will run the program, but a statement earlier in the day promised that users would also receive a utility disc that includes a step-by-step guide to installation and a tool that seeks out and pre-installs drivers necessary for Windows 7.
Microsoft's current Upgrade Option site has a list of several computer makers, including Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba, that sell laptops that qualify for a free or discounted Windows 7 upgrade.
Because the retailers and OEMs are doing the scut work of the upgrade program, customers will see a variety of deals and delivery dates. The soonest someone would receive an upgrade DVD is Oct. 22, the retail availability date for Windows 7. It may be weeks later, however, before many customers see those discs.
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