A system builder (a k a, a custom PC maker) told TechFlash this week that Microsoft had OK'd folks offering custom PCs to start shipping Windows 7 systems more than a week ahead of the official launch, which is October 22.
We'll see how that goes....
Microsoft and its biggest PC maker partners are planning to make October 22, the date that Windows 7 launches commercially, a big day for the debut of new PCs preloaded with Windows 7. But system builders don't get the Windows 7 final bits directly from Microsoft, the way that the big guys do. Authoirzed Replicators have to ship OEM software to Microsoft's authorized distributors. Then these distributors need to fill orders from the system builders.
That adds extra time into the equation. Plus, there's the fact that the system builders still don't seem to have the Windows 7 OEM Preinstallation Kit (OPK) and other tools they need to get Windows 7 preloaded on new machines. (One system builder I talked to today, September 25, confirmed that the OPK still isn't available for him.)
Microsoft officials say they are hoping that system builders will be ready with their new products on or around October 22. From a spokesperson:
"October 12 is the date that Microsoft enables our Authorized Replicators to begin shipping Windows 7 to Microsoft OEM Authorized Distributors. As the fulfillment process through our supply chain takes time, we begin initial product distribution in advance of General Availability. Therefore, this represents our Release To Manufacturing (RTM) process for OEMs who purchase indirectly through Distribution.
"So, while in theory a System Builder could get Windows 7 product pre-GA, based on supply chain analysis, the intended timing for customers to receive Windows 7 PCs from System Builders should be close to GA, October 22nd. This represents the same process Microsoft managed with past Windows releases."
From the system builder with whom I exchanged e-mail on September 25:
"As of right now, there's no possibility of completing the software installation for a System Builder machine to either replicate or sell since there's still no official OPK docs, or OPK software."