Compaq offers free upgrade to Windows XP

Compaq Computer Corp. will offer free upgrades to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP Home Edition operating system for most Presario computers purchased in North America on or after Sept. 1, the company has announced.

Presario notebooks and desktop PCs bought on or after Sept. 1 have a coupon in the box, directing customers to a Web site where they can order the free upgrade. Compaq plans to pre-install Windows XP on all Presarios shipped to retail outlets and direct sales channels starting on the official XP launch date of Oct. 25, according to a news release from Compaq. The free upgrade will ship about a month after the October XP release date.

All Presario notebooks and PCs shipped from Compaq since late June have been “XP ready,” meaning they include operating system software versions that allow users to upgrade to Windows XP without having to re-install applications.

Compaq customers who purchased XP-ready computers before the free offer begins can purchase an operating system upgrade for US$29.99, according to a company spokeswoman. The free upgrade offer applies to nearly all Presario models sold after Sept. 1.

Gateway Inc. announced last week that it will begin taking preorders for PCs with Windows XP already installed. Customers can receive a PC with XP installed by the end of September if they order now, Gateway said.

Microsoft handed PC makers the shipping version of the XP operating system’s code on Aug. 24, along with the suggested retail price of $199 for Windows XP Home Edition with a $99 upgrade from an earlier Windows system, and $299 for XP Professional with $199 for an upgrade.

A list of Presario models eligible for the free upgrade offer is available at