Windows 7 PCs with free OS upgrade are still available, for now

Time's running out to buy a Windows 7 Professional PC with an upgrade to Windows 10

Many computer users have upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 as part of Microsoft's free upgrade offer, which ends on Friday.

After Friday, holdovers who want to upgrade from Windows 7 will have to shell out US$119.99 to $199.99 for a Windows 10 license.

But for those who'd rather buy a new PC, Windows 7 laptops and desktops will still be available with the flexibility to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

PC makers HP, Lenovo, and Dell have stopped selling PCs with home editions of Windows 7. However, they are still selling PCs, loaded with Windows 7 Professional, that can be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for free.

Some people still want to buy new hardware with Windows 7, especially businesses evaluating Windows 10 for compatibility, usability, and other issues, said Mike Nash, vice president for customer experience and portfolio strategy at HP.

Most of the PCs HP is now selling come with Windows 10 licenses, but they can be converted Windows 7 Professional. Buyers will have to specifically select the Windows 7 Professional downgrade from Windows 10 when customizing a laptop.

Nash believes PC users -- especially in the enterprise -- will eventually want to upgrade to Windows 10, so HP is preparing them by providing a license for Windows 10.

Some people may opt to buy a new PC instead of buying a copy of Windows 10 for an old PC, Nash said. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update, coming on Aug. 2, has many enhancements like note-taking software and voice-based interaction that could spur people to buy new PCs with touchscreens, Nash said.

But there's bad news for existing HP customers with Windows 7 PCs who didn't already take advantage of Microsoft's free upgrade to Windows 10 offer. They will have to buy a copy of Windows 10 to upgrade their OS.

Sales of PCs with Windows 7 Professional pre-installed may end on Oct. 31, as outlined by Microsoft on its product lifecycle. Nash hinted that HP may abide by that deadline, and sell most PCs with Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 pre-installed starting Nov. 1.

HP is also still selling Windows 8.1 on laptops like the ProBook 640 G2, which is $73 cheaper than a laptop with a license for Windows 10 with or without downgrade rights to Windows 7.

Lenovo is now selling many ThinkPads PCs pre-loaded with Windows 10 Home, and users can select "Windows 7 Professional 64 preinstalled through downgrade rights in Windows 10 Pro" when customizing the laptop. That will cost $30 more than the Windows 10 Home option.

Similarly, many Dell laptops are selling with Windows 7 Professional pre-loaded, with a license of Windows 10 Pro so the PC can be upgraded. Some laptops, like the $329 Inspiron 15 3000, are a good way to get a cheap Windows 7 PC with rights to Windows 10.

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