Business customers can order Windows 7 on Sept. 1

Microsoft also will offer limited-time 15 percent to 35 percent discounts on the OS to volume-licensing customers

Business customers can start ordering Windows 7 beginning Sept. 1, slightly ahead of the general release of the OS the next month, Microsoft unveiled on Monday.

Microsoft and its partners will take orders for Windows 7 from volume-licensing customers on that date, Microsoft Senior Vice President of Windows Bill Veghte revealed in a keynote Monday at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.

Microsoft also will offer a limited-time discount on the software to volume-licensing customers in the range of 15 percent to 35 percent, depending on the size of the order, he said.

Windows 7 was one of several products highlighted at Microsoft's annual partner confab.

In his keynote, Veghte stressed for partners the opportunity to provide services based on the OS, which will be available worldwide to both businesses and consumers on Oct. 22, and will be released to manufacturing later this month.

Citing numbers from various research firms, including IDC, Veghte said that there are expected to be 77 million Windows 7 shipments by the end of 2010, and 59 percent of enterprises are expected to use Windows 7 in three years.

Microsoft will not be able to provide services and support for all of these customers, which is where partners come in. "We do not have the services capability to support that," he said.

However, another research firm believes that Windows 7 adoption may not be as widespread as some analysts and Microsoft think, despite the fact that many businesses skipped over Windows Vista and are still using the nearly eight-year-old OS, Windows XP.

A new survey conducted by ScriptLogic, the results of which were revealed Monday, found that nearly 60 percent of businesses don't currently plan to adopt Windows 7.

The results were based on feedback from 1,000 IT administrators. ScriptLogic provides network administration software for Windows-based networks.

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