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Microsoft extends try-before-it-quits Win7 test program

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Businesses now have until the end of 2010 to install a version of Windows 7 that automatically shuts down after 90 days.

On Tuesday, Microsoft said it has extended a previously "while stocks last" offer to test Windows 7 Enterprise Edition until the end of 2010.

The trial covers 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 7 and is for customers on Microsoft's Software Assurance option under its volume Enterprise Agreement.

The test program lets new users evaluate Windows 7 for 90 days, at which point the operating system will shut down once every hour. You then have to purchase a full copy of Windows 7 and perform a clean install on the PC you're using.

Microsoft cited "popular demand" for the extension.

Another reason might be that business upgrades to new versions of Windows generally take a while to filter through the corporate deployment cycle - customers on EA must be running more than 250 PCs. That means additional time is needed for testing.

Customers we've spoken to, while generally enthusiastic about Windows 7 and moving relatively fast, only expected to start rollouts during the first and second quarter of this year - taking them to end of June.

Meanwhile, 2010 was given as the time frame for rolling out the new operating system by participants in a survey conducted by desktop management specialist Kace Networks.

42 per cent said they will move to Windows 7 during 2010, while 43 per cent won't wait until Microsoft delivers SP 1.

The biggest factor hampering a speedy rollout is the testing and code rewriting needed to make legacy Windows XP applications work on Windows 7. The overwhelming majority are worried application compatibility will be a problem, according to a recent poll by Kace. The brake this puts on migration will mean users need additional time to test and evaluate Windows 7. ®

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