Windows 7 is set to launch on 22 October, but netbook owners in the UK and the rest of the EU should consider pre-ordering a copy in order if they want to try it.
Microsoft will only be selling full versions of Windows 7 in the EU - and that includes the Windows for Netbook licence.
Windows 7 for Netbooks will ship the same day, but will only be available preinstalled by the vendor. The licence cost for this has not been announced. However, Microsoft confirms that it has lifted the original restriction that allowed only three applications to run on the netbook OS at once.
Microsoft spokesman John Curran told PC Advisor that existing netbook owners should be able to run any version of Windows 7 - something that it wasn't able to claim of its predecessor, Windows 7.
This means that netbook owners will be able to join the throng of consumers keen to get Windows 7 for the special pre-order price of £49.99. This price is for Windows 7 Home Premium, while Windows 7 Professional will cost £99.99.
Microsoft says the special offer is "a way of to thank all of our loyal customers" and that it has been "humbled" by the response to the beta and release candidate of the new OS and by the interest in and demand for Windows 7.
Once pre-order copies have been exhausted, Windows 7 customers in the EU will be able to get the new OS for £79.99. The price for upgrading from an XP netbook, notebook or desktop PC will be the same as from Windows Vista, as everyone must purchase a fresh, full Windows licence.
In fact, Windows 7 has slightly lower hardware demands than Vista and the main barrier to netbook upgrades will be that most such machines don't have optical drives. Windows 7 ships on DVD. To counter this, Curran says he expects high street vendors to offer an in-store upgrade service.
Before ordering a copy of Windows 7 for your netbook, he cautions, consumers should visit the upgrade advisor at Microsoft.com (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/upgrade-advisor.aspx) and run a "sanity check" to confirm it qualifies.