'Windows 7 Capable' PCs Slated For June - InformationWeek

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Software // Operating Systems

'Windows 7 Capable' PCs Slated For June

Microsoft intends to offer free upgrades from Vista to Windows 7, documents show.

Microsoft plans to launch an upgrade program beginning in June that will allow consumers who purchase a Vista PC to upgrade to Windows 7 for free when the new operating system becomes available, according to company documents obtained by a popular tech blog.

Windows 7 screen shot.
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Under the program rules, consumers who purchase Vista-based computers from June 28 onward will be eligible for the upgrade, according to documents posted this week on Tech Arp. Vista Home Professional users will have the option to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Professional, Vista Business users will be able to migrate to Windows 7 Professional, and Vista Ultimate users will be able to move to Windows 7 Ultimate.

All upgrades must be complete by April 2010, according to the blog. A Microsoft spokeswoman said Monday that she wasn't immediately able to confirm the information.

Microsoft offered a similar program in 2006 that allowed consumers to upgrade systems from Windows XP to Vista after Vista became available in early 2007. But the program, under which Microsoft and its hardware partners branded certain systems as "Vista Capable," quickly landed the software maker in hot water.

Several consumers sued Microsoft, claiming that the Vista Capable PCs they purchased were anything but. The plaintiffs have argued that their systems were unable to run Vista's defining features, such as its graphics intensive 3-D Aero interface.

Last week, a federal judge rejected a Microsoft motion to dismiss the cases while at the same time declining to award class-action status to the plaintiffs.

Microsoft needs Windows 7, expected to be released in late 2009 or early 2010, to be a hit. Vista, the company's current OS, has failed to catch on with mainstream computer users while businesses have shunned it outright. Many users have complained about Vista's hardware requirements, intrusive security measures, and lack of compatibility with older applications.

Dissatisfaction with Vista has allowed Apple to gain share against Microsoft in the computer operating system market in recent months. Windows' market share in November fell below 90% for the first time in years while Mac OS is now flirting with the 10% mark, according to market watcher Net Applications.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on Windows 7. Download the report here (registration required).

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