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Operating Systems

Windows 10 won't be available on all new PCs come launch day

The final version of Windows 10 won't pop up on all new PCs until sometime after the OS's official launch date.

You may have to wait a bit to get a new PC preinstalled with Windows 10. screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Consumers who expect to buy a new PC running Windows 10 on the launch date may be disappointed.

Windows 10 is set to officially roll out July 29, but that doesn't mean it will be available for everyone right away, at least not on all new PCs.

Microsoft is still putting the finishing touches on the new operating system a little more than two weeks ahead of its release. The software giant isn't likely to release the OS to PC makers until sometime this week. As a result, PC vendors may not have enough time to test Windows 10 and install it on their new devices. And so, that means the PCs you view in your local retail outlet or online come July 29 won't be preinstalled with the new OS, according to Bloomberg, which cited a comment from Yusuf Mehdi, vice president of Windows and device marketing.

"You will see computers running with Windows 10 installed very soon after the 29th and then in the fall a whole new class of machines for the holidays," Mehdi said.

However, a spokeswoman for Microsoft countered Mehdi's comment by saying that several PC makers are expected to have computers outfitted with Windows 10 in stores on July 29.

"A build of Windows 10 will be delivered to our OEM partners soon so they can start imaging new devices with Windows 10," the spokeswoman said. "We expect several OEM partners to have Windows 10 devices available for sale on July 29, including Lenovo, HP, Dell, and Acer with many, many more devices to follow in the coming weeks and months. We are excited to be working with our OEM partners to see Windows 10 innovations light up on these new devices."

Dell has already been accepting preorders for some of its PCs with Windows 10 installed, as noted by blog site Windows Central. Customers who preorder select Dell devices with Windows 10 should expect shipment on July 29. And if you choose Dell's Same Day Ship option, the new PC will be at your door on July 30.

Microsoft has been tweaking Windows 10 since late last year in hopes of getting it just right. The company needs to make sure the new version of Windows is user-friendly and rock-solid if it's to avoid the negative feedback it received with the launch of Windows 8. As such, Microsoft is less concerned with getting Windows 10 to everyone on July 29 and more concerned with ensuring that the OS is as finely tuned as possible. If that means some PC buyers have to wait a bit beyond the launch date, then so be it.

At the start of June, when Microsoft announced July 29 as the launch date for Windows 10, the assumption was that the new OS would roll out to everyone waiting in line at the same time. That would include members of the Windows Insider Program who've been testing it, Windows 7 and 8.1 users who registered for the free upgrade and buyers of new PCs. But that's not the case.

So exactly who will get Windows 10, and when? With its new OS, Microsoft is adopting a phased approach.

Those who've been testing each new beta build of Windows 10 through the Windows Insider Program will be first in line to get the new OS on July 29, Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president of operating systems, said in a blog post published on July 2. The final version will be pushed out to Windows Insiders on launch date, most likely as another build.

Next in line will be Windows 7 and 8.1 users who have reserved Windows 10 as a free upgrade. Pushing the upgrade to those who've reserved it beyond the launch date gives Microsoft more time to test and fine-tune the OS to make sure it's as compatible as possible with Windows 7 and 8.1.

"Each day of the rollout, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users," Myerson said in the blog post. "If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system."

And based on the comment from the Microsoft rep, some vendors will have PCs ready with Windows 10 come launch date, and others will not. What if the PC you want in your local retail store is not yet running Windows 10? Microsoft has also promised that retailers will have stations at their stores where they can upgrade a newly-purchased PC or tablet to Windows 10 before the customer takes it home.

Update, 1:45 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Microsoft.