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Companies that upgrade Windows when they purchase new PCs should wait until February 2007, research firm Gartner said Monday, because the free and low-cost upgrades from Windows XP have a five-per-buyer limit.
Microsoft's Express Upgrade program announced last week targets consumers and small businesses, said Gartner analyst Michael Silver said in a research note posted online. "But a limit of five per buyer excludes all but the smallest businesses," wrote Silver.
Corporations with Software Assurance in place don't have a problem -- they'll receive licenses for Windows Vista as soon it appears on the Microsoft Select price list -- but businesses that buy new PCs to upgrade will need to postpone purchases until computer makers roll out Vista-equipped systems.
The five-upgrades-per-organization limit might be circumvented, said Silver, by an obliging OEM. "Organizations should ask their OEM if they can receive an exception to the limit," said Silver. "Even if these organizations don't intend to use the upgrades right away, they're worth having in case the PCs are upgraded a year or two into the future."
The Vista upgrade problem is exacerbated by the need of many businesses and departments to spend budgeted funds by Dec. 31, 2006, a month or more before OEMs will have PCs in the channel. "[Delaying] new PC purchases until they come with Vista licenses will mean deferring them past the end of the year," said Silver.
A day before Microsoft rolled out its coupon program, another Gartner analyst noted that although the research company's earlier estimate that Vista would be delayed past January now seemed moot, the PC industry would be better off if Microsoft delayed the OS until after February.