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I just bought a Vista PC, how do I get my free Windows 7 upgrade?

That's a key question being asked by students, parents, and anyone in the market for a new laptop. We detail every major PC maker's Windows 7 upgrade process.

Now that we're past the official release of Windows 7, most new PCs should come with it pre-installed. But if you purchased a new computer with Windows Vista recently, or for whatever reason end up with a Vista system in the near future, there's a very good chance you're eligible for a free Windows 7 upgrade.

From the period of June 26, 2009 through January 31, 2010, many major PC makers are offering free upgrades to Windows 7 for those who buy a Vista-powered laptop or desktop. The deals are all essentially the same, and, as expected, have some exceptions and asterisks.

Click the gallery link below and we'll show you the details for PC brands including Dell, HP, Gateway, Acer, Asus, Lenovo, and Sony -- complete with upgrade terms and instructions, and links to each PC maker's free Windows 7 upgrade request forms.

Getting your free Windows 7 upgrade is handled through the company you bought your PC from, not by Microsoft, and in most cases you'll have to register and fill out some online forms. Now that we're past the October 22 launch date for Windows 7, you'll receive a physical copy of Windows 7 via snail mail once your submit the proper documentation. The upgrade path looks like this:

Windows Vista Home Premium→Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows Vista Business→Windows 7 Professional
Windows Vista Ultimate→Windows 7 Ultimate

Using Vista basic? Tough luck! Also worth noting, upgrades are arriving via DVD, so you'll have to have a DVD drive available (although there is a USB drive workaround). Also royally screwed are Netbook buyers who have Windows XP, and are not eligible for the free upgrade.

> See CNET's full Windows 7 review here.
> Missed the big gallery link above? Brand by brand details on getting your free Windows 7 upgrade are here.
> This article updates our earlier pre-Win7-launch feature: Ask the editor: Should I buy a new laptop now, or wait for Windows 7?