Want Windows 7 early? Here’s how…

Windows 7 arrives on October 22.windows_71

But waiting for the doors to open? That’s for suckers only.

Want to get a jump on the crowds and get Windows 7 ahead of time? You really don’t need anything special: All you have to do is buy a new PC. Microsoft is giving vendors the OK to start preloading Windows 7 on PCs as soon as they receive their allotment of product keys.

That should happen as early as October 12, over a week before shrinkwrapped copies of the software show up on store shelves. Now you’ll never know exactly which computers have Windows 7 on them unless you drop by a retail outlet or configure a computer for yourself online — but if you just can’t wait to get Windows 7 going on your machine, it should be a relatively foolproof way to get it early.

The other option: Preorder a configure-it-yourself system with Windows 7 on it. The holdup isn’t testing to make sure the OS works on the hardware. Vendors already have the software they need and are simply waiting for the product keys to arrive in order to finalize the software installations. (Without them, Microsoft wouldn’t be able to validate the software as legitimate and would eventually cease to function.)

PC makers are of course ecstatic about all of this — every day Vista has to be sold on a PC instead of Windows 7 is another sale that’s probably lost. Plus, the ability to jump the gun on packaged-copy sales by 10 days gives them an advantage, an opportunity to entice would-be upgraders not only to get Windows 7 early, but to get a brand new machine in the process and completely avoid the hassle of having to install the upgrade themselves.

Don’t worry, it may sound shady, but everything’s on the up and up here, and no one is breaking any rules. Microsoft is even positioning the ability for vendors to sell preloaded PCs as a “competitive advantage.”

If you buy a machine early, let us know in the comments!