Fujitsu to offer Windows 7 upgrades but not for free

An upgrade program is expected to be announced on Friday

Fujitsu will charge for Windows 7 upgrade vouchers when it begins offering them shortly to people that buy a PC ahead of the operating system's Oct. 22 launch.

Many PC vendors will offer the vouchers, in the hope that customers won't put off planned PC purchases until Windows 7 ships. A similar program was offered for Windows Vista, while Apple has also offered free OS upgrades to some of its customers.

Fujitsu said it will launch its program before the end of June, probably this Friday. Microsoft has scheduled a news conference in Tokyo on that day.

The company is one of Japan's biggest PC vendors and also has a sizable business in Europe. Several other PC makers around the world have also confirmed they will take part in the voucher program, including Hewlett-Packard and Taiwan's Acer, Asustek Computer, Gigabyte Technology, Micro-Star International (MSI), and Shuttle.

The companies are levying a charge on users because they have to pay Microsoft to include upgrade coupons with PCs. The coupons will cost the PC makers between US$9 and $15 to include with PCs although end-users will likely be charged a higher price, one Taiwanese company said.

The PC industry needs all the help it can get right now.

Global PC shipments dropped by a record amount in the first quarter of this year. Total shipments were 66.5 million units, down 8.1 percent on the same period in 2008, said iSuppli last week. The fall was entirely in the desktop segment, which saw shipments drop 23 percent versus a 10 percent increase in the laptop segment.

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