How to Pre-Order Windows 7 Tonight (and How To Cut The Line)S

If you want Windows 7 Home Premium for $50, or Pro for $100, you'll have to pre-order it. Here's a list of places where you can find it, starting at 12 midnight Eastern, 9pm Pacific tonight!

Remember, this is a limited-time offer, and it only applies to Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Professional—not Windows 7 Ultimate, which may be what you've been running in Beta or RC.

These retailers are also supposed to begin selling Vista systems tonight that will come with a free Windows 7 upgrade on October 22. In other words, buy it right now, use it right now, and upgrade in a few months for free. Just do yourself a favor and ask first, before plunking down cash, because though most manufacturers and retailers are on board (and why not?), some PC models may not come with the free upgrade.

The online retailers participating in Microsoft's pre-order Win 7 disc sale starting at midnight Eastern tonight are:
Amazon
Best Buy
Costco
Fry's Electronics
Office Depot
Office Max
Sam's Club
Staples
Tiger Direct
Walmart
NewEgg
Nebraska Furniture Mart (What the?)

In Canada, you can hit:
Staples
Future Shop
Best Buy
London Drugs
Amazon
The Source

And in Japan, the pre-order is available at:
Yodobashi Camera
Amazon
Yamada Denki
Bic Camera
• and "all small partners" (whatever that means)

Microsoft's own online store is also offering the pre-sale. If by some reason you go and the offer is sold out, we have something you can try. Go to the Microsoft store, click the OS version you want to buy, and click "Buy." Log in with your Windows Live ID (Microsoft Store, Hotmail, Messenger, Xbox LIVE, Zune or Passport accounts all apply) and enter this promo code:

WIN7PIFKYW2ZR0EDTEMG

Then follow the steps to complete the transaction.

The thing is, this code may not be of much help. Microsoft tells us that it lets 300 people get software through Sunday or Monday, even if the public allotment sells out. But we're also told there are a lot of copies out there for the discounted pre-sale. So please try to buy it first without using the code, leaving the 300 slots free to people who didn't act as fast as your PC-lovin' self. You can always copy it and quickly use it if you get rejected. But I don't think you're going to get rejected, especially not tonight.

If that's not wondrously clear, I apologize, though it's certainly not my fault. The good news is, you don't need a special code to get the special price. Not now at least.

Don't forget to read Windows 7 Pricing: The Full Story, and Windows 7: Cheaper Than Vista and Every Other Windows OS. And let us know down in comments if the pre-order process was smooth—or nightmarish.