Free Windows 7 upgrade limit 'silly,' says analyst

Resist 25-PC maximum, expert urges, don't pay twice for the new OS

Microsoft's limit on the number of computers eligible for free Windows 7 upgrades is "artificial" and "silly," an analyst said today, and may create just the situation the company hoped to avoid: stalled PC sales.

When Microsoft announced its Windows Upgrade Option (WUO) last Friday, it didn't publicize one restriction: Any one organization or business can obtain free upgrades to Windows 7 for only 25 Vista-equipped PCs.

Computer makers, however, made it plain that the rule was in effect.

"If you are a computer administrator ordering on behalf of your company or organization, you may order a maximum of 25 Windows 7 Upgrade Kits for 25 eligible computers purchased during the eligibility period," said the fine print in an FAQ (HP's Windows 7 upgrade options (PDF)) published by computer maker Hewlett-Packard.

"If you need more than 25 upgrade kits, contact Microsoft about a volume license."

Dell, the world's second-largest OEM, used similar language in its FAQ on the upgrade program.

"In addition, the number of Dell Windows 7 Upgrade kits allowed to any one customer is capped at 25 per physical address. Customers with more than 25 PCs are encouraged to pursue Volume Licensing," Dell stated.

"It seems like an artificial thing to do," said Gartner analyst Michael Silver today. "It just seems silly to force companies to juggle their purchasing plans for PCs."

Silver, who published a research note last Friday hammering Microsoft over the 25-PC restriction, explained today that it would either force companies to pay twice for an operating system, or prompt them to delay PC purchases until after Windows 7 officially releases.

"Even if you don't deploy Windows 7 on that machine immediately, you want that license anyway," said Silver. That applies as well to companies that are still running Windows XP by downgrading from Vista on new PCs; they'll want to have the Windows 7 license in hand for later when they do migrate.

"If you don't get [Windows 7] for free now, you'll pay $120-$150 later for a license. That's a huge percentage of the cost of the PC," Silver said.

Because of the 25-machine-per-company limit, Silver expects some organizations to defer purchasing PCs until after new machines are available with Windows 7. "That may push PC purchases into the fourth quarter," he said, noting at the same time that WUO is meant to do just the opposite.

"The program's designed so that PCs don't bottom out during the months leading to Windows 7's release," said Silver.

Two weeks ago, Silver raked Microsoft over the coals about plans to limit XP downgrades from Windows 7 to just six months after the latter's Oct. 22 release. Later that same day, Microsoft extended the time limit to 18 months.

In his research note Friday, Silver laid out Microsoft's motivation for the XP downgrade limit and the 25-PC Windows 7 upgrade restriction.

"Gartner believes that Microsoft designs these program limitations to persuade organizations to enter Enterprise Agreements, enroll licenses in Software Assurance or purchase upgrades to obtain rights to run Windows 7," he said.

To avoid paying for Software Assurance -- which Silver said can run $100 to $150 for three years -- he urged companies facing near-term PC purchases to twist some OEM arms.

"Ask your OEM to ignore the limit and give you the free upgrades," he said. Because OEMs administer WUO, they have the latitude to do that, and have made exceptions in the past, Silver said.

And if that's not possible? "Delay your purchase," he said.

Microsoft used a similar, though even more restrictive, limit three years ago when it offered free upgrades to Windows Vista.

As part of the then-named "Technical Guarantee" program, Microsoft said that no more than five upgrades would be provided per company.

"So this is actually five times better than Vista's," said Silver.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags upgradesGartnerMicrosoftWindows 7

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?