Officially, Microsoft says Windows 7's launch schedule could go either way: the new operating system may hit stores in time for the 2009 holiday season, or it may be postponed. However, CNet News has received word from "PC industry sources in Asia and the U.S." that Windows 7 is definitely on track for a 2009 launch.
Microsoft Senior VP Bill Veghte told CNet back in January that the launch might still be postponed until 2010. He explained, "We will ship it when the quality is right, and earlier is always better, but not at the cost of ecosystem support and not at the cost of quality." Considering the positive response to the Windows 7 beta and the short testing cycle, though, a launch in time for Christmas certainly doesn't sound implausible.
If Windows 7 is coming in a matter of months, it follows that Microsoft needs a little something to keep Vista sales going. In this case, CNet says its sources claim Microsoft is "putting the finishing touches" on a step-up program that will let users upgrade to Windows 7 for free or at a heavy discount. Said program could start "as early as July."
In a separate report, TechARP has posted a number of unofficial details regarding the program. Supposedly, the step-up scheme will let users upgrade from Vista Home Premium, Vista Business, and Vista Ultimate to the corresponding Windows 7 editions. It will start on July 1 and end on April 30, 2010, although the deadline for eligible systems will depend on when Windows 7 actually ships. As with the old XP step-up program, only folks who buy pre-built PCs with Vista systems in that time frame will be eligible for a free or discounted upgrade.
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