Microsoft denies holding up Win 7 tools for PC makers

Summary:Microsoft is denying a DigiTimes report which claims the Redmond company has delayed delivery of key analysis and testing tools that PC makers need to get Windows 7 preloaded on new machines.

Microsoft is denying a DigiTimes report which claims the Redmond company has delayed delivery of key analysis and testing tools that PC makers need to get Windows 7 preloaded on new machines.

According to the DigiTimes August 3 report, some Taiwan-based OEMs said they are "awaiting performance testing and system preparation tools from Microsoft." And because they are lacking these tools -- and also because software vendors won't get the final bits until August 6  -- they can't start "rolling out PCs with Windows 7 off their production lines until September, instead of mid-August as projected previously."

I asked the Windows client team about the report. The ISV/IHV (independent software vendor/hardware vendor) delivery date of the final bits of August 6 has been known for a few weeks now. I have to say, even though there were a few changes between the near-final Release Candidate test build of Windows 7 and the final RTM (release to manufacturing) bits, Microsoft has been pretty up-front about any compatibility gotchas ISVs and driver providers might encounter.

But what about the claim the PC makers don't have the needed tools? I asked Microsoft for more on that part of the DigiTimes story. A company spokesperson sent back this statement via e-mail:

"Currently, Microsoft OEMs have all of the OPK (OEM Preinstallation Kit) tools they need for manufacturing. There is not a single tool that has not been released to them.

"We actually release the full set of required software (OS + Language Packs) within a few days of RTM, and not several weeks as we did for prior OS releases.

"The SDK (software developer kit) and WDK (Windows driver kit) is however not broadly available for IHVs and ISVs, yet but will be shortly as you mentioned."

Microsoft officials have been forthcoming for a month or so that they weren't going to get the Windows 7 code to OEMs in time for them to have back-to-school Windows 7 machines available on the market. (That's why Microsoft has been pushing the OEM Upgrade Option coupons so hard.) So I'm a little fuzzy as to what the unnamed Taiwanese PC makers are complaining about.

Any PC makers out there have more specifics to share as to what, if anything, you're still awaiting from Microsoft?

Update: I've heard back from a system builder, a ka "white box" PC maker. He said system builders definitely do not have the OPK and other necessary tools yet. But they also don't have the RTM Windows 7 bits yet, either. They have to wait until later this week or month (depending on which Microsoft licensing programs they are a part) to get the official final build of the operating system. The system builder said:

"I can tell you truthfully that there is ABSOLUTELY NO Windows 7 OPK released on the OEM System Builder website, which I have access to.  Major (royalty) OEM's may have the OPK, but System Builders don't.  There is a training module for preinstallation but it doesn't dwell on anything new in WinSIM and only lightly touches on the process of capturing images.  The training doesn't provide any link to an OPK download, and there is NO step-by-step documentation posted yet either."

I've asked Microsoft to respond to the system builders' claims. I am betting company officials will say that they consider OEMs and system builders to be two different kettles of fish and that I only asked whether OEMs had the necessary Windows 7 tools. If and when I get more from the Softies, I'll update this post again.

It took a couple of days. But it sounds like the system builder was correct. Microsoft may have gotten all the necessary tools to OEMs already, but system builders don't have them yet.  Bottom line: Microsoft's original statement was about OEMs and not system builders (even though system builders are a subset of OEMs). The last and final statement, delivered via a Microsoft spokesperson via e-mail:

"Microsoft communicates regularly with our valued System Builder community, including providing regular updates via http://www.microsoft.com/oem/default.mspx.

"Our System Builders have been active participants throughout the Windows 7 development effort. System Builders will receive Windows 7 and preinstall tools from their OEM Distributors that will enable them to assemble PCs, preinstall and test in time to have their systems ready for October 22 GA (general availability)."

Topics: Hardware, CXO, IT Employment, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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