Gartner Symposium: Free Windows 7 for everyone

What do Gartner Symposium attendees get for the $3,700 entrance fee? Along with a lot of information technology advice, a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate.

Free beer (in the Richard Stallman sense) accompanied the free software (not in the Richard Stallman sense). It's a good way to pack a showroom floor.
Free beer (in the Richard Stallman sense) accompanied the free software (not in the Richard Stallman sense). It's a good way to pack a showroom floor. Stephen Shankland/CNET

ORLANDO, Fla.--Gartner offers a Justification Toolkit to argue the financial merits of attending the Gartner Symposium, but a show perk might carry more personal appeal: each attendee gets a free copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, packaged with a slab of chocolate.

Well, maybe not free exactly.

It costs $3,695 to attend the show. And as one wag commented, "The chocolate's the better part. You'll get fewer headaches."

Perhaps stung by the contrast between its Windows Vista's tarnished reputation and its flashy "The Wow Starts Now" promotional campaign, Microsoft is sticking to barer-bones marketing work with Windows 7. Microsoft is one of five premier sponsors of the conference, and giving freebies to a few thousand influential IT folks probably makes sense--especially given how many companies just stuck with Windows XP rather than upgrade to Vista.

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