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Windows 10 PCs may not hit the market in time for back-to-school season

Although Microsoft Corp. plans to make its Windows 10 operating system available to PC makers this summer, actual systems featuring the new OS will not hit the market ahead of the important back-to-school season, market analysts believe.

Recently Lisa Su, chief executive officer of Advanced Micro Devices, said that Microsoft would launch its Windows 10 at the end of July. Ms. Su implied that the launch of Windows 10 would be important for sales of personal computers this year during the BTS and holiday seasons. Microsoft did not confirm plans to release its Windows 10 in July and many analysts now believe that while the company will make the OS available to PC makers, it will not be available to general consumers this summer.

“I would be really surprised if channel product was on the shelf with Windows 10 in July,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in an interview with ComputerWorld. “I was in OEM for 10 years and was the one who signed off on images [to be installed on PCs]. OEMs get a master [from Microsoft], but then build their images on top of that. Even the fastest OEMs might take one to two months, for some three to four months. I just don’t know where they’ll find the time to make back-to-school.”

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Back-to-school season starts in late July and runs for about seven weeks. During the time it is pretty hard to substitute all of Windows 8.1-based products that are already available with new systems running Windows 10. As a result, it is highly likely that PC makers will have to wait for better timing.

“The challenge of a new OS is that they [PC makers] would want to do a general wholesale sweep, leaving one or two SKUs [stock keeping units] that are older and replacing everything else,” said Stephen Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group. “That is a real tough period of time trying to make a switch. Why spend money to disrupt the supply chain”

It hardly makes a lot of sense for Microsoft and PC makers to rush Windows 10-based systems to market as soon as possible. Windows 10 can run on current-generation hardware perfectly and Microsoft will upgrade all Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems to Windows 10 free of charge. Therefore, it hardly matters for customers what PC to buy this summer as they will have a chance to upgrade.

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KitGuru Says: While it makes perfect sense for Microsoft and partners to ensure that Windows 10 is stable and robust before releasing it to market, it should be kept in mind that the new OS is also a catalyst for new PC purchases. Therefore, it is still important to release the OS rather sooner than later.

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