We have begun to reach our fill of all things Windows 7 related this week (yes we're looking at you tech companies who send us endless press releases for old kit which "work on Windows 7"), but this is one final development that is rather pleasing...
Microsoft has quietly announced it will be offering downloadable versions of Windows 7 that can be installed directly from a USB memory stick: "If you've got a netbook, you probably don't have a CD or DVD drive - so you may be wondering how you can upgrade to Windows 7," states the product page. "We've got your answer. The Microsoft Store is the only place where you can get a downloadable version of Windows 7. Download Windows 7 directly onto a USB drive on your netbook - no CD or DVD drive necessary - and start taking advantage of the best Windows yet."
It isn't all fluffy clouds and kittens however since curiously Microsoft is only offering Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate upgrade editions and given that the vast majority of Windows netbooks run XP (which can't be upgraded to 7) that seems rather daft. We're chasing Microsoft for a clarification. Another downside is Windows 7 Home Starter - the SKU Microsoft specifically pitches at netbooks - isn't an option.
Still it's a step in the right direction, even if creating your own unofficial version is fairly easy.
In related news Apple has confirmed it will offer Windows 7 support in Boot Camp for Mac OS X Snow Leopard before the end of the year. 17in and 20in iMacs, 15in and 17in MacBook Pros and the Mac Pro all made in 2006 will not be compatible.
Update: Microsoft has added full editions of Windows 7 as download options if you click on the main page Home, Professional or Ultimate upgrade links (a strange way of doing it I know). Note the pricing is the same as their boxed equivalents.
Update 2: Microsoft has confirmed to us that it has no plans to offer these editions in the UK at present, but there's nothing to stop you following the links and paying in dollars.
Boot Camp and Windows 7 Apple Support Page