RealTime IT News

Microsoft Offers Free Trial for Windows 7

As the clock ticks closer to the official launch of Windows 7, Microsoft continues to bang the gong about the new system, hoping to pre-sell more copies before the sales race really begins in earnest.

This week, it's talking up volume upgrade discounts and free trial copies for enterprise users.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) said that as of Tuesday, Sept. 1, it had made the final release bits available to customers that don't already have a Software Assurance contract via its Volume License Resellers channel.

As an incentive to get on board now, the company is offering discounts of up to 15 percent on upgrade licenses for Windows 7 Professional edition to those customers, although the actual discounts will be decided by the resellers. The upgrade discount offer is good until Feb. 28, 2010.

Upgrade licenses are available for Windows Vista Enterprise, Business and Ultimate editions as well as XP Professional machines.

Microsoft revealed the new promotions in a post on the Windows 7 team blog.

Customers will have the choice of getting upgrade licenses for either Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise edition.

As a come-on to enterprise customers, Microsoft is also offering 90-day free trials of Windows 7 Enterprise edition, also effective as of Tuesday.

"If you are an IT Pro who does not have a Software Assurance Volume Licensing agreement and are not an MSDN/TechNet subscriber, you can download the Windows 7 Enterprise 90-Day Trial," the company said in its post.

Microsoft began distributing the final Windows 7 code to some customers in early August. For instance, subscribers to Microsoft's MSDN and TechNet online services got access to the downloads Aug. 6.

The next day, Microsoft granted access to the downloads to users signed up through Volume License and Software Assurance agreements. PC manufacturers had gotten the code a few days earlier.

Company executives began discussing volume licensing plans for Windows 7 at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in July, pegging the start date at that time as Sept. 1.

Microsoft finally gave Windows 7 the "released to manufacturing," or RTM, seal of approval on July 22.

Consumer sales of Windows 7 -- both as packaged software as well as on new PCs -- are set to begin Oct. 22, with Microsoft planning to mark the occasion with a gala launch party in New York.