On October 12, Microsoft provided system builders with the Windows 7 OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) tools and related documentation they need to preload and customize Windows 7 on multiple new PCs.
System builders are custom PC integrators. They are a lot smaller than the 20 or so PC OEMs who received the final Windows 7 bits and tools just days after Microsoft released Windows 7 to manufacturing in late July.
A number of system builders have said they've been frustrated that they couldn't get the OPK until mid-October, given that Microsoft and its biggest OEMs will be launching Windows 7 and making it generally available on October 22. Microsoft officials have said they believed providing the system builders with the code and tools now would give them enough time to get their systems out by October 22.
"The thing about this is that the WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) was released about two months ago," said one system builder. "The only big difference is the labelling in the software (basically just the Autorun application), and the docs. It takes 2 months to do that?"
Microsoft said at the end of September that it planned to allow distributors to provide system builders with the OPK on October 12. Microsoft officials have said that system builders can begin selling Windows 7 systems once they've preloaded the final bits, but aren't expecting that to happen more than a few days before October 22, at best.
Speaking of Windows 7, Microsoft issued the first Patch Tuesday security fixes for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 on October 13.