That's a change from past practice, likely due to the tight schedule that Microsoft has adopted for the OS. For example, it has not yet declared the "release to manufacturing," or RTM, milestone for Windows 10, even though launch is just two weeks away. Historically, Microsoft has given OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) about three months to prep new PCs with a new operating system.
Some OEMs will be the exception to that rule. Dell, for instance, has pledged to start shipping pre-ordered Windows 10-powered PCs on July 29, with free next-day delivery. The Round Rock, Texas company can do that because it delivers devices on a build-to-order basis, and sells systems almost exclusively through an online mart.
Microsoft will account for the paucity of new Windows 10 devices at launch by partnering with a large number of retailers, including Best Buy, Staples and Wal-Mart in the U.S., with upgrade programs. The Redmond, Wash. firm's own retail outlets -- more than 100 in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico -- will also offer upgrade assistance.
Microsoft is working under a self-imposed deadline to put Windows 10 on a billion devices worldwide within three years. To make that number, it will have to not only push OEMs to ship devices, but convince a huge number of those now running Windows 7 or 8.1 to move to Windows 10.
The fan-based approach to the Windows 10 launch -- celebrations in its stores, the emphasis on Insiders for the 13-city events -- was reminiscent of an effort Microsoft made in early 2014 to convince users, specifically its most advanced and active users, to help others upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 8.1. The initiative was hooted down by those who said that that was Microsoft's job, not theirs.
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