In another blow to customers, Microsoft says free Windows 7 upgrades--for companies that purchase new hardware between now and the Oct. 22 release date of the new OS--will be limited to 25 machines.
As of last Friday, individual customers who purchase Vista Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate will be able to get a corresponding version of Windows 7 at little or no cost, according to a blog post by Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc.
What the post does not say, and has not been widely publicized, is the 25-unit limitation on upgrades for business customers.
The policy has been criticized in a research note by Gartner analyst Michael Silver.
I am not sure if the plan here is to convince customers not to buy new hardware until late October, but it will certainly have that effect on some companies. Why pay now and pay later?
Especially when many feel that Microsoft should not be charging Vista customers a cent to upgrade from that troubled OS.
Silver says enterprise customers should demand an upgrade option from their hardware vendors, some of whom have the latitude to expand the 25-machine limit for their customers.
But, what if you're not an enterprise customer who can, in Silver's words, "obtain rights for best value?"
In that case, you are again stuck doing what Microsoft wants you to do: Purchase a Software Assurance agreement for your machines and get the upgrade that way. SA costs between $100 and $150 per machine (for three years) and generally must be purchased within 90 days of buying the new hardware.
SA offers customers all upgrades released during the membership period for the fixed price, which is less expensive than a Windows 7 upgrade for most customers.
Alternately, small businesses can, if their hardware vendors will not come to the rescue, limit their PC purchases to 25 units between now and Oct. 22.
That is just what we need during a recession, companies holding off on needed purchases they would otherwise make. And just so Microsoft's can pocket extra upgrade money.