Microsoft Corp. will offer free or discounted Windows 7 upgrades to users who buy Vista PCs after July 1, according to a Web site that has accurately predicted the company's moves in the past.
TechARP.com, a Malaysian Web site that correctly named the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) dates for several Windows editions last year, said that Microsoft will unveil a program for Windows 7 that's similar to Vista Express Upgrade, a 2006 marketing effort that provided free or discounted Vista license to buyers of Windows XP in the months leading up to Vista's early-2007 release.
[ InfoWorld's Randall Kennedy thinks that Windows 7 marks the beginning of the end of the Wintel duopoly. Meanwhile, several Vista flaws surface again on the eve of Windows 7 beta. ]
According to TechARP, Microsoft will allow original equipment manufacturers to purchase Windows 7 upgrade media, which they can then offer to customers who buy a Vista-power system between July 1, 2009, and a date to be determined.
The upgrades, however, would not be shipped to those PC buyers until the general availability date for Windows 7. Microsoft has not set a delivery for the new operating system, and instead has stuck a broad range of dates, from late 2009 to early 2010.
The Windows 7 upgrade program as spelled out by TechARP resembled the earlier Vista Express Upgrade. In that program, people who purchased Windows XP PCs between Oct. 26, 2006, and March 15, 2007, were eligible to receive free or inexpensive Vista upgrades.
TechARP did not have a closing date for the program, noting only that it was "TBA," or "to be announced." The site did say, however, that OEMs would be free to specify a shorter eligibility period than Microsoft's.
Upgrades will be available from Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium, and from Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate, said TechARP. Buyers of PCs equipped with Vista Business will be able to upgrade to a Windows 7 Professional.
Vista Express Upgrade also used clearly defined upgrade paths. People who had bought a computer with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, for example, were offered only Vista Home Premium, while those who purchased an XP Home PC were given Vista Home Basic.