Microsoft is hitting back at critics who charge that its decision to limit free Vista-to-Windows 7 upgrades to 25 per customer punishes businesses and will stifle corporate PC sales until Windows 7 is released in late October.
Windows 7 screen shot
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A spokesperson for the software maker noted that the limit is five times higher than a similar limit that Microsoft imposed for free Windows XP to Vista upgrades when Vista became available in early 2007.
"The Windows 7 Upgrade Option is similar to prior tech guarantee programs, and it was designed for consumers and small businesses," said the spokesperson, in an e-mail Monday.
"That said, we're providing more choice for customers with Windows 7 than we did before. Past iterations of the tech guarantee program, for example, limited the number of free upgrade requests to five for customers buying Windows pre-installed on a new PC," the spokesperson said.
"With Windows 7 Windows Upgrade Option for new PCs, Microsoft has increased that limit by five times," the spokesperson added.
Last week, Gartner analyst Michael Silver slammed the limit.
Silver said Microsoft may be capping the number of PCs eligible for free upgrades to Windows 7 in order to goose sales of its Software Assurance licenses to businesses. Under Software Assurance, companies pay between $100 and $150 per PC for the right to unlimited upgrades at no additional cost for three years.
"Gartner believes that Microsoft designs these program limitations to persuade organizations to enter Enterprise Agreements, enroll licenses in Software Assurance or purchase upgrade rights to run Windows 7," Silver wrote.
Silver also noted that Microsoft will end free XP-to-Windows 7 upgrades for PCs purchased after October once the first Windows 7 Service Pack is released.
Microsoft blamed weak business sales in part for a 16% falloff in Windows revenue in the most recent quarter.
InformationWeek has published an indepth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).