Similar to Windows Vista Technology Upgrade free upgrade program, Microsoft is also offering a free upgrade program for Windows 7 operating system, due to release October 22nd, 2009. The Windows 7 Technology Guarantee Program (which it previously named) is now called Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program, which aims to encourage sales of OEM PCs (desktops, laptops, notebooks and nettops) during transition to Windows 7 where customers may hold back, postpone or defer purchase in anticipation of upcoming Windows 7.
Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program allows consumers and small businesses to free upgrade to Windows 7 when they purchase a qualifying Windows Vista PCs or Windows Vista retail license starting from June 26, 2009. June 26 will mark the official start of the Windows 7 Upgrade Option, and the launch of windows7upgradeoption.com, which will provide detailed information on the qualification and redemption procedure of the free Vista to Windows 7 upgrade. It may also becomes fulfillment website, where eligible end users can order their free copy of Windows 7.
Note: The site is now live, and serves as one-stop fulfillment site that allows end-user to order, track and learn information on the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program.
Currently, if you visit the site, you will be seeing “Thank you for your interest. Please return to this site on June 26, 2009, 8:00 AM GMT.” Anyway, the site appears legitimate as the site is hosted for Microsoft by arvato digital services, and maintained by or for one of the following Microsoft Corporation affiliates: Microsoft Licensing, GP, Microsoft Ireland Operations Limited, or Microsoft (China) Co. Limited, and the applicable entity is referred to as “Microsoft” throughout this site.
Under Windows 7 Upgrade Option program, end user who buys a new PC that is pre-installed with Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Ultimate with a valid Certificate of Authenticity (COA) attached, or a Windows Vista retail product key with paper license will qualify for a free upgrade to equivalent Windows 7 license and product key at little or no cost. The purchase must occurs during the Program Eligibility Period, which is from June 26, 2009 through January 31, 2010 (not final and may be change).
The valid upgrade paths or equivalent Windows 7 upgrade editions under Windows 7 Upgrade Option program are:
Windows Vista Home Premium -> Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows Vista Business -> Windows 7 Professional
Windows Vista Ultimate -> Windows 7 Ultimate
Eligible customers will start receiving Windows 7 upgrade media from October 22nd, 2009, corresponding to the day of Windows 7 general availability. All upgrade media fulfillment must be shipped before April 30, 2010. Microsoft will provide Windows 7 licenses and medias at no charge to computer manufacturers, but OEMs may impose fee for shipping and handling.
Several other restrictions for Windows 7 Upgrade Option are that the Windows Vista to Windows 7 upgrade must be of same language version and of same associated edition (e.g. Windows Vista Home Premium K edition to Windows 7 Home Premium K edition). 32-bit to 64-bit upgrade is not supported but allowed through clean install.
End users who opt for optional Windows XP downgrade provided by certain OEMs is eligible for free upgrade to Windows 7, as the machine comes with a Windows Vista COA (Certificate of Authenticity). However, direct Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrade is not supported and will be blocked by Windows 7 upgrade process. The workarond is to do a clean install using the Windows 7 Upgrade Option media using the registration code in the Windows Vista COA.
Consumers who purchase PCs installed with Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Starter Edition, and Windows XP (all editions) are not qualified to receive free upgrade to Windows 7 under Upgrade Option program.
One final note is that Windows 7 Upgrade Option is optional program, as not all OEMs may participate in the program, although most will be happy to jump in the bandwagon. And the duration of the free upgrade program may vary between OEMs too. So do check if the machine you going to purchase is covered under Windows 7 Upgrade Option at the time of purchase before committing.
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