updated 02:55 pm EST, Tue January 20, 2009
S1Digital Free Win 7 Promo
Home theater PC builder S1Digital today stepped out in front to become the first computer builder to launch a free upgrade campaign for Windows 7. The deal gives buyers of all of the company's systems save for the Media Center Mini Edition a free upgrade to the next-generation operating system if they buy a PC between now and March 31st. Buyers will have to cover shipping but are otherwise covered for the entire process, which includes not only the copy but the installation and supporting drivers.
No indications are given that the end of March cutoff reflects inside knowledge of Microsoft's release schedule for Windows 7. S1Digital also says it will likely only start performing upgrades sometime after the software launch to give time for drivers.
The early upgrade promise is an unusual one in the PC industry, which normally holds until nearer the actual release date to institute upgrade plans. Microsoft's coupon program for Vista began in the fall of 2006, or just a few months before the January 2007 release. Microsoft is widely understood to be releasing Windows 7 well ahead of its official early 2010 target but still isn't expected to ship until July at the earliest, or six months after the start of the first upgrade program.