The clock is ticking. Microsoft is getting its partners prepped for the Windows 7 Upgrade program, expected to be launched officially by June 26.
(Note: Microsoft hasn't confirmed the June 26 date, but a Best Buy memo leaked that date as when the wraps will be taken off Microsoft's Vista-to-Windows 7 upgrade program, which is designed to maintain Vista sales until Windows 7 is available. I asked Microsoft officials if they'd confirm the validity of some new partner information it allegedly posted to its Web site this week, but so far have received no word back. Update: The official word, via a spokesperson, is "We can't confirm this specific information or WUO (Windows Upgrade Option) program timing just yet.")
The partner "SKU order period" for the free upgrade coupons is listed as running from June 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009, according to the new note. Beyond that, there are not a whole lot of details in the partner note that haven't been made public already, primarily thanks to the sleuths at the TechARP site, who've been posting regular updates on it for the past few months.
Here's the new note posted to the Microsoft Partner site shared by a source of mine. Just a reminder: This is Microsoft's information for OEM/retail partners, not consumers:
"Help Sales Today with the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program"Anticipation for the Windows 7 operating system is high – but you need to sell PCs today. To help you sustain PC sales until Windows 7 is available in the market, we have created the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program. This optional, low-cost program allows partners who purchase a qualifying Windows Vista SKU from an Authorized Microsoft Distributor to provide a Windows 7 Upgrade Option offer form to customers. This offer form can be redeemed for a free Windows 7 upgrade when Windows 7 is available.
"Here’s how it works:
1. You purchase a qualifying Windows Vista Upgrade Option SKU from your Authorized Microsoft Distributor (Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate with an accompanying Upgrade Option offer form).
2. Preinstall this qualifying Windows Vista operating system on a PC.
3. Sell the PC during the eligibility period and give the Upgrade Option offer form to the customer. The customer visits a fulfillment Web site to order a Windows 7 upgrade at no additional cost. Microsoft will manage the Web site upgrade requests and media fulfillment process for the program.
4. After Windows 7 is released and available, the customer will receive from Microsoft a comparable version of Windows 7 for installation on his or her PC.
"Coming Soon! Marketing Assets to Help You Generate Demand
"Take advantage of the Windows 7 Upgrade Option program with marketing assets from Microsoft. These assets will be available to download from this site closer to the release of the program.
"Eligible Upgrade Paths Upgrade media will be product version specific and must correspond to the Qualifying Product Version.
"Upgrade Option Offer Paths to Windows 7*
"If a customer buys a PC preinstalled with (this), they are upgraded to (that):
Windows Vista Home Premium: Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows Vista Business: Windows 7 Professional
Windows Vista Ultimate: Windows 7 Ultimate
* Non-qualifying Windows OS versions: Windows XP (all versions), Windows Vista Home Basic, and Windows Vista Starter.
* Program Eligibility Period: To be announced
* Program SKU Order Period: June 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009
* Authorized Replicator Ship Date: June 19, 2009
* Program Fulfillment Website Go-Live Date: To be announced
* Initial Upgrade Media Fulfillment Date: Windows 7 General Availability Date
* Upgrade Offer Form Expiration Date: February 28, 2010
* Final Software Fulfillment Date/Program End Date: April 30, 2010
"Supported languages All Windows 7 languages will be supported under the program. Refer to your local Distributor for detailed SKU information."