Windows 7 launch 'hidden on the high street'High street stores fail to highlight Windows 7

08 October 2009

windows 7 logo

With the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft’s new operating system, just weeks away, a Which? Computing investigation has uncovered a lack of information on the high street.

Posing as a consumer looking to buy a new laptop, we visited five stores in and around London’s main electronics district, Tottenham Court Road.

Only one store we visited - PC World - spontaneously told us about the imminent release of the new Windows 7 operating system.

Four of the five stores we visited in our undercover investigation were happy to sell us a laptop running Windows Vista - which is soon to be replaced with Windows 7. This would have saddled us with the burden of paying up to £30 extra if we wanted to upgrade to Windows 7.

Windows 7 Q&A

Which? technology editor Matt Bath said: 'We expected to see every store we visited talking about the imminent launch of Windows 7 and what it means for consumers buying computers now.'

Matt will be on hand to provide answers to all your Windows 7 questions during our live online Windows 7 Q&A session on 21 October from 1pm to 2pm.

Even department store John Lewis, which topped our recent high-street shopping survey, didn’t tell us about Windows 7. Only when we said that we would wait a few weeks before buying the laptop, the salesman then advised that we should wait to buy a laptop with Windows 7 rather than buy one with the older Vista included.

Independent store Micro Anvika and major chain Currys also fared poorly in our snapshot investigation. The salesmen in both stores made no mention of the new operating system or how we could upgrade to it from Vista until we prompted them for information.

Staff in another independent store we visited were badly informed about Windows 7, and weren't forthcoming with information on the new operating system.

Windows 7 hits the shops on October 22, but don’t expect to see lots of laptops with the new operating system appearing even then. It’s likely to be some time before new laptops with Windows 7 pre-installed will appear.

Windows 7 buying advice

If you’re looking to buy a new laptop, we would recommend waiting and buying one with Windows 7 installed.

If you want to upgrade your operating system to Windows 7, we recommend waiting before switching. Bugs and glitches are par for the course with new operating systems so you’re better off waiting to see how Windows 7 fares before parting with the system you use already.

If you’ve just bought a laptop then there is a voucher system in place where you can upgrade to Windows 7. Some are advertised as ‘free upgrades’ but some laptop manufacturers will charge you up to £30 to post the new disc to your door. Check whether your manufacturer is participating in the Windows 7 Upgrade Option scheme.

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