Last month, I purchased a new PC from Dell with Windows Vista Home Edition thinking that I will upgrade it to Windows 7 as soon as it's out. A few weeks earlier, I had purchased a laptop with Windows Vista Premium Edition (64bit) and went to Dell's Windows 7 Upgrade website, registered the Service Tag and was promised the upgrade.
Today, with all the hype about Windows 7, I was reminded of the fact that I had not registered my desktop for the upgrade so I went to do it on Dells' web site. First of all, the site was extremely slow and finally when I was able to login, I entered my Service Tag and associated information. The site kept saying that it could not find the Service Tag in the database and that it might take up to 10 days from the purchase date for it to show up in the upgrade database. This was not my problem since this PC was purchased just a little over a month ago.
Now, starts the Dell Support nightmare. First, I start a chat session with a support rep god-knows-where. After 10 minutes of digging, he tells me to call an 800 number (my worst Dell nightmare). At this point, I really didn't have much of a choice so I called the 800 number. After finally getting a hold of someone, he did more digging, but could not figure why my registration was getting rejected. He than transferred me to the third person. All of these people are very nice, but they're clueless and the problem never transfers so you have to start over again. I explained the story from the beginning to the third rep. Her immediate response was similar to the registration website that it "would take up to 10 days from the date of purchase." Of course, I had to repeat the information that I just gave her and make her look up the order to realize that it has been over 30 days since I bought it.
Finally, light bulb goes on! She says that I had purchased a Windows Vista version that is NOT eligible for the upgrade to Windows 7, which is Windows Home Edition! Well, that sucks since the PC was still in the box. I asked if I can return it, but the return period has just passed (30 days).
The support rep pointed me a note that's buried on the upgrade site (not the sales site), which states the following:
Note: Microsoft Windows Vista® Home Basic, Windows Vista® Starter Edition, and non-Bonus versions of Windows XP and Windows XP Professional do not qualify for upgrades to Windows® 7 under this program. Windows® 7 can only be upgraded to the same language version of Windows (e.g. English to English).
My recommendation: This recommendation is a bit late as Dell is already shipping PCs with Windows 7, but if you encounter another vendor that's promising a Windows 7 upgrade, do not purchase a PC without Windows 7 until Dell starts selling it. It's bad enough that you have to deal with an upgrade process and wait for the DVD to show up and risk incompatibility and driver issues. Your PC may not be eligible for the upgrade at all!
Update (11/8/2009): I just checked the status of my earlier upgrade order on Dell's website and it seems that the expected shipping date is 12/1/2009. Keep in mind that Microsoft released Windows 7 on 10/26/2009 and was certainly released to manufacturers such as Dell much earlier. This is an experience that I will not forget in cosidering future PC purchases around the time of an expected released. Total disasater.