The Windows 7 is set to launch on 22 October around the world. Anyone outside Europe buying a new PC between now and then - running Windows Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate - will get the chance to upgrade the operating system on it, at no cost, to Windows 7. While Microsoft will not charge for the upgrade, some PC makers may impose a fee to ship disks with Windows 7 on them to customers.
The worldwide upgrade option programme is due to begin on 26 June. Those who want to upgrade to Windows 7 on a older PC will pay a reduced price for the software. Stand alone versions of Windows 7, that can run on more than one PC, will also be available.
Microsoft will make an upgrade offer to buyers of new PCs but will send them a full version of the software rather than an upgrade version.
In Europe the full version will cost the same as an upgrade version. In the UK the upgrade version of the Home Premium edition of Windows 7, available to those with an existing Windows license, will be £79.99. By contrast buying this in a shop, and which can be installed on more than one machine, will cost £149.99.
The upgrade option was not available, Microsoft said, because it was trying to comply with European competition regulations. Microsoft has said that Windows 7 will be offered in Europe without the Internet Explorer browser on board.
The preferred remedy for Europe he said, was to offer users a screen when they first switch on Windows 7 that gives them a choice between IE, Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Opera.