Microsoft has confirmed that upgrade editions of Windows 7 will be available in Europe when the new operating system launches on October 22. The company had previously said that only full version would be on offer.
The initial limitation of a full, clean-install only edition was part of the plans for Windows 7 E, a version of Windows that did not come with Internet Explorer and would be the only version available in the EU. Because previous versions of Windows all contain Internet Explorer, Microsoft argued that there could not be upgraded to a version without the browser. However, they have since decided to instead introduce a ballot screen for consumers to choose which browser they want to use, meaning that the idea of Windows 7 E was scrapped.
In a posting today at the Windows 7 Team Blog, Brandon LeBlanc confirms that countries in the EU will receive the same version of Windows 7 that is available to the rest of the world. He also states that because upgrade editions will be on offer in Europe, Microsoft will now also be selling the Windows 7 Family Pack - which contains upgrade editions - in selected European countries.
The Family Pack has already been announced for the US and Canada and provides a set of three upgrade licences of Windows 7 Home Premium at a reduced cost. The Family Pack will be on sale as a limited offer from the October 22 launch date of Windows 7. As well as the US and Canada, it will now be available in the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden as well.
Clarification has also been offered to customers who have already pre-ordered the now-defunct Windows 7 E. These consumers will be shipped a full versions of Windows 7, as will anybody who pre-orders before September 1st when the upgrade editions will start to become available for pre-order. If you are looking to save a few pennies (or cents) then you will be happy to hear that all full editions of Windows 7 ordered before September 1 - including those already pre-ordered - will cost the same as the cheaper upgrade versions available after that date. From September 1 onwards the price of the full versions will increase.
This finally seems to be some good news for any Europeans wanting to do an upgrade-install of Windows 7 from an earlier version of the Windows OS. You can pre-order Windows 7 now from Microsoft's online store and selected retail partners, or wait until September 1 to purchase an upgrade edition.