Best Buy is locked and loaded for the Windows 7 launch.
And I don't use the phrase "locked and loaded" figuratively. "Locked" in that all the new Windows 7 machines are locked down behind cages. And "loaded" in that all the cages are full. (See photos.)
I visited a Best Buy Friday night in Southern California where the cages were loaded exclusively with new models preloaded with Windows 7. And I learned a few odd tidbits from a stoked salesperson who had definitely been drinking the Windows-7-is-totally-awesome Kool-Aid. Let me add that the information was conveyed to me at one store in Southern California and may not necessarily apply to all stores nationwide.
--Best Buy can theoretically sell you a Windows 7 machine before October 22. However, the store would get fined if it does so. One figure thrown out by a salesperson was $5,000 per sales violation.
--Almost all of the shelf space had been cleared. In other words, when I walked into the laptop section, all of the counter space that typically holds 50 laptops (or more) was empty. The space will be repopulated on October 22.
--Why the empty counters? Best Buy had sold virtually all the Vista machines in the store prior to Windows 7 launch.
Windows 7 laptops behind the cages include an HP dv6 laptop with a 16-inch screen (model: dv6-1352dx), a Dell Inspiron with 15.6-inch screen (model: i1545-4203), an HP G60 (model: G60-535DX), and a Sony Vaio VGN series (model: VGN-NW270/FS). Note that most of these models do not show up in a Google search or in the Best Buy database yet.
I was also ushered to one box that stood out by its size (about three times the height of other laptop boxes). This, I was told, contained an 18-inch class Asus laptop packing a quad-core Core i7 processor with killer graphics, though the salesperson wouldn't disclose which particular graphics card it used.