In yet another indicator as to the progress of Windows 7, the Tech ARP site reported that Microsoft plans to allow PC makers to offer customers who buy Windows Vista machines as of July 1 free upgrades to Windows 7 once it ships.
It looks as if Tech ARP may have obtained internal Microsoft information on its Windows 7 Technical Guarantee program. The Web site says that Microsoft provided PC partners with a first pass draft of its Tech Guarantee documentation on December 10.
According to a December posting on the Tech ARP site, Windows Vista PCs must be purchased by end users ... between July 1, 2009 through TBD (to be determined)" to qualify for the Windows 7 Tech Guarantee program. The wording notes that "OEMs may choose to offer a shorter program period within the allowed date range."
Windows Vista Home Premium purchasers will get a free upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium, the site says. Windows Vista Business users will get an upgrade to Windows 7 Professional. And users who buy PCs running Windows Vista Ultimate starting July 1 will get a free upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate.
(I asked Microsoft for comment on the information on the Tech ARP site on the Win 7 Tech Guarantee program.
No word back so far.)
Update: A statement delivered ia a spokesperson: "We often explore options with our partners for how we offer products, but we have nothing to announce at this time."
Customers will receive the free Windows 7 updates some time after Windows 7 becomes generally available -- a date not mentioned in the Tech ARP posting (and probably also not in the Microsoft documentation, given how tight-to-the-vest Microsoft is continuing to be with its Windows 7 ship schedule).
Some time in calendar Q3 2009 seems to be the new whisper date for Windows 7 release-to-manufacturing. Microsoft is STILL saying early 2010 is the official RTM target. Sigh.