Continuing its habit of dribbling out information about how it will make Windows 7 available to customers in the coming months, Microsoft provided a few more details this week. The company also confirmed that it would offer three-PC home licenses for Windows 7 Home Premium through a Family Pack, but only in certain (as yet unnamed) markets.
What Microsoft didn't discuss, yet again, was when it would announce Windows 7's release to manufacturing (RTM). However, several sources at the company have told me privately that the Windows 7 RTM announcement is imminent.
Microsoft provided the following Windows 7 availability information. Two days after RTM, it will provide Windows 7 to PC makers. In early August, MSDN and TechNet subscribers can download Windows 7 RTM in English, and volume-license customers with an existing Software Assurance (SA) license can download Windows 7 RTM in English via the Volume License Service Center (VLSC).
In mid-to-late August, Microsoft Partner Program Gold/Certified members will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English, Action Pack subscribers will be about to download Windows 7 RTM in English, and VL customers with an existing SA license can download Windows 7 RTM in the remaining languages through the VLSC.
Volume-license customers without a SA license will be able to purchase Windows 7 through Volume Licensing on September 1, as previously announced. On October 1, Microsoft Partner Program Gold/Certified Members will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in the remaining languages, Action Pack subscribers will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in the remaining languages, and MSDN and TechNet subscribers can download Windows 7 RTM in the remaining languages.
Windows 7 will be made available via retail stores, through online purchasing, and with new PC purchases on October 22, as previously announced. This is the so-called "general availability," (GA) date.
Regarding the Windows 7 Family Pack, Microsoft confirmed only three details about this packaging: It will be offered only with Windows 7 Home Premium, will include licenses for three copies of the OS (allowing installation on three separate PCs), and will be made available only "in select markets" (whatever that means). Microsoft didn't provide pricing information or reveal in which markets it will provide this product. The company also didn't reveal whether it would offer the Family Pack in both electronic and retail packaging.
For more information, see Windows 7 Availability on the SuperSite for Windows.