For some of those who ordered Microsoft's Windows 7 student edition for $29.99, the low price is coming with a heap of download issues.
A number of customers have experienced installation failure with the upgrade, which comes through e-commerce company Digital River. As the installation reaches the "Unloading the Box" phase, various error messages pop up, including "We are unable to create or save new files in the folder in which this application was downloaded" and "This version of the file is not compatible with the version of Windows you're running."
According to a message posted by Microsoft on the Microsoft Answers forum, that particular error message hits users attempting to download and install the 64-bit version of Windows 7 onto a machine running a 32-bit version of Windows such as XP or Vista 32-bit.
Microsoft and Digital River are continuing to explore why some customers are experiencing messages that say, "An error has occurred. Unspecified answer," or else stalled downloads. Microsoft has also offered a help link to a Digital River site here.
A Microsoft spokesperson suggested in an e-mail to eWEEK that only "a small number of customers" were experiencing what the company termed "challenges" with the download.
"We are working with Digital River to provide an ISO file option for future purchases, which will allow customers to install more easily for this scenario. Customers that contacted Digital River with this issue will be proactively contacted with the details on how to download the ISO," the Microsoft spokesperson added. "We hope to have this available as part of the download process within the next few days."
Despite the reported issues with Windows 7 student edition, reviews of Microsoft's new operating system have generally been positive. In order to help avoid the problems that initially plagued Vista, Microsoft enlisted some 8 million beta testers for Windows 7, eventually producing a platform generally agreed to be stable on a wide variety of desktops and laptops. Despite later service packs that fixed many user issues, Vista never managed to shake its reputation as a memory-intensive and application-incompatible system, a situation that Microsoft seemed particularly anxious to avoid this time around.
A backup DVD with a custom install is also being made available to customers for a $13 fee.
On Microsoft's Answers forum, the messages posted were understandably irate.
"Has anyone [spoken] to a customer service rep? I've had -zero- luck getting hold of an actual person from Digital River or Microsoft," wrote one user.
In its attempt to disseminate its new operating system as widely as possible, Microsoft has been giving users the option of downloading Windows 7 onto their computers. Timed to Windows 7's Oct. 22 launch, Microsoft also offered owners of the ever-popular netbooks the ability to download a version of Windows 7 from Microsoft's revamped online store onto a bootable USB or DVD.
Microsoft needs Windows 7 to be a substantial hit. According to analyst Katherine Egbert from research firm Jefferies & Co., Microsoft likely hit its financial bottom in June and could rebound in 2010 thanks to a combination of cost controls and revenue from its Client and Xbox divisions.
On Oct. 23, Microsoft reported a 14 percent decline in year-over-year revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2010. However, those earnings of $12.92 billion were not as bad as executives originally feared, leading to a burst of optimism both on Wall Street and within Redmond. Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell indicated that he expects the Windows division revenue to be in line with future growth in PC sales.