updated 01:35 pm EST, Thu February 12, 2009
Early Win 7 upgrade plans
Spelling them out in a draft document sent to OEMs builders, Microsoft has laid out tentative plans for cheaper Windows 7 upgrades. The plans are collectively known as the Windows 7 Upgrade Program, and mirror an earlier scheme which allowed people buying Windows XP computers to receive a low-cost upgrade to Vista once the OS was released. As before, only individuals and small businesses will be eligible.
Customers will also have to buy a new PC loaded with Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate, entitling them to a discount on an equivalent version of Windows 7 -- Professional, in the case of Vista Business. Buyers should additionally be able to shift from a 32-bit OS to a 64-bit one in the process, though Microsoft observes that a clean installation will be required.
Notable is that the program is currently set to apply to computers bought as early as July 1st, validating some rumors, and backing expectations that Windows 7 may launch in the summer rather than in late 2009 or early 2010. Reinforcing this view are sources in the Asian and US PC industries, who say that the software should at least be released before the holiday season, giving OEMs enough time to configure computers for Christmas sales. The proposed upgrade paths would cease eligibility after January 31st 2010.