HP won't ship PCs with Windows 10 preinstalled until mid-August

Better plan on downloading it ... or just skip it

The big picture of how Microsoft plans to debut Windows 10 for its customers remains murky, but more details are starting to emerge, courtesy of the software giant's hardware partners.

Redmond certainly isn't giving PC makers much time to test their kit with the new OS. It's due to ship on July 29, which is just over two weeks away, which raises the question of just when devices with Windows 10 preinstalled will be available in stores.

"On July 29, we will make Windows 10 available, across 190 countries, as a free upgrade or with new PCs and tablets," Yusuf Mehedi, corporate VP of Microsoft's Windows and Devices group, said in a blog post on Monday. But at least one major vendor won't have Windows 10 products in stores on that date.

On Monday, HP said in a press release that it doesn't anticipate having products available with Windows 10 preinstalled until "mid-August into October." That means it will be a minimum of two weeks after Windows 10 ships to Windows Insider members and as possibly as long as a couple of months before HP product running the OS becomes widely available.

And even then, HP isn't planning to strong-arm its customers into adopting Windows 10. As it has done in the past, the PC maker plans to offer its business customers a variety of OS options, including Windows 8.1, Ubuntu Linux, and even FreeDOS 2.0.

Lenovo, meanwhile, has released a guide [PDF] called "Starting to use Windows 10." It doesn't give a date for when the Chinese firm plans to start shipping PCs with Windows 10 preinstalled, but it does explain that if your computer did come with Windows 10, its documentation may include some "inapplicable information."

The Charms Bar has been removed from Windows 10, for example, and the Start Screen has been replaced with a Start Menu that more closely resembles the one from Windows 7. Apparently Lenovo doesn't expect to be able to run up new product manuals for its existing products in time for the transition.

Microsoft, on the other hand, still seems to be emphasizing do-it-yourself upgrades for Windows 10. It has a global advertising campaign in the works and is planning "celebrations" at retailers worldwide to encourage customers to take advantage of the free upgrade offer. More than 110 Microsoft retail stores in the US, Canada, and Mexico will join in the party and will offer demos, prizes, giveaways, and more.

Microsoft said it is also planning to splash $10m on nonprofit organizations around the globe as part of its "Upgrade Your World" marketing blitz.

Just how easy it will be to get Windows 10 on July 29 isn't clear, though. Redmond has said that members of the Windows Insider program will get the first shot at downloading the new OS and that it will be rolled out to customers in phases.

It's obvious that the Windows 10 launch is a critical moment for Microsoft. Whether it will be a triumphant occasion or a source of frustration for customers remains to be seen. ®

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