Microsoft has announced that it will ship Windows 7 to customers worldwide on 22 October.
At the same time the company will offer an upgrade service called the Windows Upgrade Option to current Windows users, Microsoft said. More details about that programme will be revealed during a keynote by Microsoft Corporate Vice President Steve Guggenheimer at Computex in Taipei yesterday.
Microsoft previously said it would release both the consumer and business versions of Windows 7 in time for the year-end holiday shopping season. The release to manufacturing (RTM) -- which means the code is finished and ready to be burned on to distribution media -- will come in the second half of July, according to a company spokesman. There was no firm date for RTM provided.
In addition, Microsoft confirmed there would be a Windows Upgrade Option that is similar to its Tech Guarantee program. Microsoft said details on the program and its parameters will come at a later date.
Past Tech Guarantee programmes give users who purchase an earlier version of a product during a specific eligibility period the option for a low-cost or sometimes no-cost upgrade to the new version when it is released.
In January, Microsoft sent a memo to OEMs to gather feedback on establishing such a program. The memo said the eligibility period would start on July 1, 2009. It did not provide an end date for eligibility.Microsoft has said all versions of Windows 7 will run on PCs and laptops as well as increasingly popular netbooks, which currently are running either Windows XP or Linux because Vista's hardware footprint was too big to run reliably on them.