Obviously this information's been out for a while now, but I'm hoping to add a little bit to what you may have already heard. The website win741.com is running a promotion, managed by Digital River, that allows "students" to purchase copies of Windows 7 at a discounted rate. The Windows 7 copies available are upgrade versions of either Home Premium or Professional. Now to the interesting aspects of this promotion:
Trustworthiness - For one, you may be suspicious of the website, as there appears to be little to tie Digital River, or the website itself for that matter, to Microsoft. Things should be kosher, however, because Digital River actually ran a promotion for Windows Vista, of which I was a participant, that resulted in FREE copies of the FULL VERSION (not upgrade) of Vista Business.
Who REALLY can participate? - Next, the fact that only "students" are supposed to be able to participate in this promotion can seemingly be easily worked around. All that appears to be required is an academic e-mail address by an "approved institution." As a recent alum, and also a result of having attended a higher education institution during the digital age, I have an academic e-mail address. Many of you may as well, or you may know someone that does who is also a recent alum, or a current college student. This is a great way to save approximately $80 on the Home Premium upgrade, or a whopping $170 on Professional.
Pricing - Speaking of the price for Professional, I was informed that it may be $39 compared to the $29 for Home Premium, but I have yet to see that confirmed outside of a rumor. The $10 difference may be worth it anyway, but there are differences between the two versions that you may want to take a look at before pulling the trigger, whether upgrading with this promotion or otherwise.
Where's Professional? - Also, in regards to actually ordering the Windows 7 Professional upgrade through the promotion, it's been my experience that it's very difficult to find. I can't precisely recall how I stumbled upon it, but I believe the option comes after you've registered for the promotion and clicked the link e-mailed to you. Once you navigate to that page, there should be an option somewhere for you to go after Professional instead of Home Premium. It's out there, and is well worth the extra effort if the promotion price is the same for Professional as it is for Home Premium.
How is it delivered? - How the download of the product is going to work, or even how it's going to be formatted, still remains a slight mystery. I've heard, and suspected so far, that it will come in the form of a disc image, or ISO file. The website also lists an option to have a physical disc delivered to you, but it'll cost $12. If you've got a DVD burner with some blanks laying around, I'd probably just fire that puppy up, but, if not, the physical media may be worth it considering the deep discount you're already getting on the product.
It may seem simple, but this is, clearly, one complex promotion. If you follow these steps, and consider these options, however, you should be in pretty good shape with your wallet once general availability hits on October 22nd.
NOTE: The student discount offer will run through January 3, 2010.