by Shane O'Neill

Windows 7 Upgrades: Microsoft One-Upped by PC Seller, but Buyer Beware

Mar 02, 20093 mins
Data Center

If you’re a consumer chomping at the bit to schedule an upgrade to Windows 7, the people at Puget Systems in Auburn, Wash., are your first, best option. They’re your only option right now.

The Seattle-area system builder, which sells PCs nationally, is officially offering Windows 7 upgrades on Vista PCs bought now. The upgrades are being done at the sole cost of Puget Systems and with no partnership with Microsoft, the company says.

Microsoft will reportedly offer free or discounted upgrades to Windows 7 on Vista PCs bought after June 28, 2009. However, Microsoft has yet to confirm this.

So until Microsoft goes wide with Windows 7 upgrades or until another PC seller does what Puget is doing, Puget’s Windows 7 upgrade program is the one and only.

In a Computerworld news story last Friday, Puget Systems president Jon Bach said: “We see this as an opportunity to do something exciting when there’s not a whole lot of things happening in the business at the moment,” adding that “it’s a way for us to get some exposure.”

Exposure indeed, but I hope that’s not all they’re looking for. It’s hard not to applaud Puget for serving its customers’ needs, but some of its stipulations will make for a laborious upgrade and may limit the amount of customers willing to upgrade through Puget.

First off, the PC purchases eligible for upgrade have to cost at least $1,000 when most PCs, even the really good ones, are in the $700 – $900 range. Initially, Puget said the eligible PCs have to be equipped with the 64-bit edition of Windows Vista Ultimate, the most expensive version, and can only upgrade to the priciest version of Windows 7, Windows 7 Ultimate.

But according to the company’s Web site, upgrades from Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium are now available as well. That’s a wise move if Puget wants more out of this than exposure because the large majority of consumers will be using Windows 7 Home Premium.

Puget’s upgrade offer is scheduled to expire on June 15, ostensibly to step aside for Microsoft’s alleged Windows 7 upgrades. But Puget says it reserves the right to change this date at any time.

Puget Systems will begin accepting PCs for upgrades 30 days after the release of Windows 7 and the buyer is responsible for the shipping costs to send and return the PC to Puget Systems’ facilities. This will cost approximately $200, so I wouldn’t say these upgrades are free.

For more details about Puget Systems Windows 7 upgrade program click here.

One could argue that Puget Systems is an opportunist forcing customers to buy up. Also, buying a PC from a mostly unknown system builder and mailing it back to the facility for an upgrade may not sit well with many customers.

But despite the buyer bewares, Puget Systems is offering eager customers an early chance to secure a highly-anticipated operating system. These are smart, timely business tactics, and you can’t fault them for that.

What do you think? Would you buy and upgrade a PC from an independent PC seller like Puget Systems? Do you wish more companies would do this?