Microsoft will start selling Windows 7 to business customers in volume on Sept. 1, weeks before its official retail rollout on Oct. 22.
As it prepares for a massive worldwide push for Windows 7, Microsoft also announced that businesses purchasing the operating system in volume would be able to do so at discounts of between 15 and 35 percent.
The announcements came during the opening of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans. In addition to demonstrating Windows 7, Microsoft will have other flagship products on display, including Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows Mobile 6.5. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is scheduled to speak on the second day of the conference, July 14.
Even as Microsoft begins its massive ramp-up to Windows 7's release, it may have a difficult time convincing the enterprise to rapidly adopt the new operating system. A survey by ScriptLogic suggested that six out of 10 companies would avoid purchasing Windows 7 at the time of its debut, citing concerns over cost and interoperability with pre-existing applications.
Out of the 1,000 companies responding to the survey, about 60 percent said they had no plans to adopt Windows 7, while another 34 percent suggested they would be on board by December 2010. Only 5.4 percent suggested their companies would have Windows 7 up and operating by the end of 2009.
About 42 percent of those surveyed said a "lack of time and resources" lay behind their decision not to adopt the new operating system, while another 39 percent said they felt that Windows 7 would not necessarily be compatible with their existing applications.
In addition to the price cuts for business volume purchasers, Microsoft is aggressively targeting consumers with massive price cuts and promotional offers. Reports suggest that Windows 7 will sell for roughly 10 percent less than Windows Vista, even before the substantial discounts being offered online through Amazon.com, Best Buy, the Microsoft Website and other retailers.
Microsoft needs Windows 7 to be a success, considering that over a third of the company's revenue derives from the sales of its operating systems. Microsoft's last release, Vista, has often been considered something of a misfire, with many in the enterprise citing Vista's poor interoperability as a chief reason for staying with Windows XP.