Many college students who took advantage of special $30 pricing on Windows 7 experienced difficulties installing the new OS over the weekend, but Microsoft says the problem is now fixed. Most of the problems appear to have been related to individuals who tried to upgrade from 32-bit versions of Windows XP or Vista to a 64-bit version of Windows 7.
"The way that customers were taking advantage of the student offer was somewhat of a surprise," said Ben Bennett, director of the Windows consumer global support group at Microsoft. "We didn't think there would be a large demand for upgrades from 32-bit to 64-bit."
The original version of the student-only Windows 7 installer—which is packaged differently than other Windows 7 installers and can only be used to upgrade existing Windows versions—would hang if you attempted to go from 32-bit to 64-bit. Oddly, the error was purposefully created, because Microsoft does not support in-place upgrades from 32-bit versions of Windows to 64-bit versions. (This has always been the case; it's not a new Windows 7 issue.)
Now, Microsoft says it has offered a 64-bit upgrade path via a more traditional installer that can perform a clean install of a 64-bit version of Windows 7. So those students that wish to go 64-bit can return to the download site and grab the new version if they're having issues.
Microsoft patted itself on the back for "responding fairly quickly to the problem," but that's a ludicrous assessment. The company should have foreseen this issue, given that it has been pushing 64-bit computing for three years. And by offering a non-standard installer only to students via this special offer, Microsoft also set itself up for the unique problems that were created by having a different way of doing something that is already well established elsewhere. It's unclear why they made such a bone-headed mistake.
"Customers are frustrated with issues that they're having, \[and\] the longer they wait, the more they get frustrated," said Paul Aaron, Microsoft senior group manager for Windows supportability. "We need to respond faster."
Fair enough. I'd take it a step further, apologize, and agree that this never should have happened in the first place. Just a thought.
The student offer for Windows 7 can be found at www.win741.com. I'm told it actually works now too