Windows 7 PCs available early

Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 7, is set to officially launch and become generally available to the public on October 22. Some custom computer builders, however, have now been given permission to start selling PCs with Windows 7 pre-installed a week or more before the launch date.

Some smaller system builders have been told by Microsoft that they can start selling PCs pre-loaded with Windows 7 as soon as they receive the product keys, TechFlash reports. The product keys - used to activate the operating system - are expected to be distributed to these system builders as soon as October 13, over a week before the official release of Windows 7.

Jon Bach, the president of custom computer builder Puget Systems who are based in the Seattle region, told TechFlash that he found out about the early release stance simply by speaking to Microsoft. He had been led to believe that the policy applies only to system builders who buy Windows 7 via the official distribution channels, and not to large OEMs or retailers.

"I'm surprised this hasn't come out. It was freely shared with us, and confirmed in writing. We almost didn't believe it," Bach said of the arrangement. He added, "The way they said it was, 'This is your competitive advantage, make use of it'."

Puget Systems are prepared to start selling Windows 7 machines as soon as they receive the product keys from Microsoft. Bach himself has been testing the operating system for the past six months and feels confident that they are ready for launch. His company has copies of the RTM version, ready for preconfiguring computers so that all they need to do is enter the product key before handing it over to the customer.

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