If you live in Europe and you’re contemplating an upgrade to Windows 7 later this year, I’ve got good news and bad news for you.
The good news is you’ll get a better price than your counterparts in other markets. You’ll be able to buy a fully licensed retail copy of Windows 7E (Microsoft’s customized version, with Internet Explorer 8 stripped out to mollify the European Commission antitrust regulators) for the price you would normally pay for an upgrade edition.
The bad news is that Microsoft plans to completely disable upgrade capabilities in Windows 7E.
Yes, you heard that right, and I’ve confirmed the details with a Microsoft spokesperson. The upgrade option will be disabled in all copies of Windows 7E.
Microsoft’s Brad Brooks, Corporate VP for Windows Consumer Marketing, explained the decision in an in-house interview:
We wanted to make sure that all of our customers got Windows 7 at the same time. And because of what needed to occur around testing of Windows 7E, it became very clear that we would not be able to offer a retail upgrade version of that piece of software on October 22nd.
So, we had a choice to make. Either we delayed the launch of Windows 7 in Europe or that we brought it all together and did something different. So, what we decided to do is do something different.
And so in Europe we're going to basically offer Windows 7E full version at upgrade prices.
For Windows XP users, this isn’t an issue, because upgrades from XP to Windows 7 are blocked already. But anyone running Windows Vista will be disappointed to learn that the upgrade path available everywhere else in the world is unavailable in the EU. If you buy a retail copy of Windows 7E, you’ll be forced to do a custom (clean) install, and then reinstall all your applications and drivers and restore your data files and settings.
Speaking of the rest of the world, Microsoft is planning to launch Windows 7 in 35 languages in two waves, all in a period of less than two weeks:
October 22: English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese and Chinese (Hong Kong).
October 31: Turkish, Czech, Portuguese, Hungarian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Greek, Ukrainian, Romanian Arabic, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Estonian, Slovenian, Hebrew, Thai, Croatian, Serbian Latin, and Latvian.
By contrast, Windows Vista was released in 18 languages initially, with another 18 delivered approximately 100 days later.