Back on May 11th, Microsoft confirmed what was already pretty obvious: Windows 7 would ship for the 2009 holiday season. Today, it got specific and said that the OS would show up on new PCs and in retail upgrade boxes on October 22nd. That’s a little later than some predictions–just yesterday I was telling someone that I thought it would arrive in time for the full back-to-school season–but it’s cheery news for a PC industry that’s presumably already worrying about the holiday sales period and looking for incentives it can give consumers to buy, buy, buy.
It’s also a positive development for consumers, since there’s plenty of evidence that a Windows 7 machine will be more pleasing than the same hardware loaded with Windows Vista (or for that matter, Windows XP).
Of course, it would be silly to assume that the fact that Microsoft has announced a ship date means that the chance of it blowing its deadline is zero. But the fact it’s already announcing a date when Windows 7 will show up in stores is a strong sign that it’s really, really confident about its timetable–in the past, it’s usually played games by first announcing the date when it would release a new version of Windows to manufacturing, not when people could actually buy it.
As usual, PC manufacturers will offer some form of discounted or free upgrades for folks who buy Windows PCs in the period just before the upgrade ships. In the Cnet story I link to above, Ina Fried says that Microsoft left open the possibility of some sort of blanket discount for Windows Vista users; me, I think that would be both a smart PR move and a good way to goose sales, even if the discount was far from gigantic.
I like Windows 7 myself–the release candidate is already the version of Windows I use when I have a choice–but am going to remain a tad uneasy about the launch until we know more about whether the typical Windows 7 machine that’s sold to a consumer is so larded up with demoware, adware, and pointlessware that you can’t appreciate Win 7′s subdued, less annoying personality.
I suspect that the days of anyone lining up at midnight at CompUSA Best Buy to purchase an OS upgrade are behind us. But do you intend to get your hands on the shipping version of Windows 7 within, say, the first two weeks of its release?