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Take two: Microsoft says business licensees to get Windows 7 bits on September 1

On July 13, Microsoft officials said business users with volume license agreements won't be able to get the Windows 7 bits until September 1. Microsoft isn't providing further information as to why customers will have to wait more than a month after release-to-manufacturing to get the final bits.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Last week, it seemed Microsoft was going to make Windows 7 bits available to business customers with volume licensees right after the product was released to manufacturing in July.

But on July 13, Microsoft officials said business users with volume license agreements won't be able to get the Windows 7 bits until September 1. Microsoft isn't providing further information as to why customers will have to wait more than a month after RTM to get the final bits.

(Microsoft still hasn't announced it has reached the RTM of Windows 7, but it is still expected to do so before the end of this month.)

What happened? Was  there a typo in the partner e-mail about which I reported last week? Was there a misunderstanding in the terms and conditions Microsoft was offering its users to get them to sign up for Software Assurance? A change in the company's delivery plans? I asked Microsoft and didn't receive an answer.

This is the statement I got via a spokesperson on July 13:

"As of September 1 our business customers will be able to order Windows 7 through our Volume Licensing partners to support their Windows 7 planning and deployment strategies. To help partners take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade businesses to Windows 7,  we will start a limited time, 6 month promotion of 15% or more off the price of the Windows 7 Professional upgrade compared to the Windows Vista price."

I also asked when MSDN/TechNet would be able to download the final Windows 7 bits. The spokesperson said:

"We will provide an update on when MSDN/TechNet users can get the (Windows 7) bits, but we have nothing to share at this time." (Microsoft amended this July 13 by saying that MSDN and TechNet subscribers will get Win 7  "a few weeks after" RTM.)

Update: Here's some further clarification from Microsoft about how its existing Windows 7 volume-licensing offer is different from what was announced today:

Current SA offer: This is an offer to get Software Assurance, which includes rights to future upgrades, among other benefits. * Timing: It ends on August 31. (Right before the new offer starts.) * Offer: If a customer attaches software assurance to a new PC, that PC is eligible to upgrade to Windows 7 Enterprise as soon as it is available. The offer is that we have 15% discount on the cost of software assurance. Any PC purchased with a qualifying operation system, such as Windows Vista Business, since July 31, 2008 is eligible. * If a customer has PC that they purchased since July 31, 2008 this offer is the better deal because the cost is less and the customer gets Windows 7 Enterprise.

Today's offer: This is an offer for an upgrade license to Windows 7 Professional purchased through Volume Licensing. * Timing: It starts on September 1, when Windows 7 will debut on the VL price list. (Right before the other offer ends.) * Offer: Get a discount of 15% or more on an upgrade to Windows 7 Professional.  Offer available for 6 months. Any PC with a qualifying operating system such as Windows Vista Business or Windows XP Professional is eligible, regardless of when it was purchased.

As several readers noted when I originally reported that business users were slated to get the final Windows 7 bits by the end of this month, most business users won't be champing at the bit for the final Windows 7 bits. They'll need to do planning, get deployment tools in place, check for compatibility and... of course, find the funds to buy the latest version of Windows.

A new survey of 1,000 companies by ScriptLogic Corp. found about 60 percent of those surveyed have no plans to deploy Windows 7, 34 percent will deploy it by the end of 2010 and only 5.4 percent will deploy by year's end.

What's your take? Will many business users be among the early adopters of Windows 7?

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