Given the delays to the release of Windows Vista and the grief that's causing to system resellers, it looks like some sort of upgrade coupon is in the works. This follows news that Microsoft will be going to additional lengths to assuage customers that are signed up for the company's Software Assurance plan. Whereas the first Vista-enabled PCs are now expected in January 2007, the coupon program is apparently designed to encourage buyers to purchase Vista-capable PCs in Q4 (for example, for the holidays) knowing they can freely upgrade to Vista (with the coupon) once Vista hits. According to Mary Jo Foley:
Microsoft and its PC partners have made no bones about the fact that some kind of Vista "tech guarantee" is in the works. According to DigiTimes, the Vista coupons will hit in October.
Even though Microsoft still appears to be committed to the January 2007 date for the consumer release of Vista (the business release is scheduled for November 2006), having a coupon program in place could do much more than just stimulate Q4-sales of Vista-capable PCs (including the new crop of Intel Core Duo-based systems). It also covers Microsoft and system buyers in the event that Vista's shipping date slips again. Earlier this week, Gartner predicted that Vista wouldn't be generally available until Q2 2007.