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Buy Vista now, get free Windows 7 later

Microsoft has confirmed that it will offer consumers “special deals” on an upgrade to Windows 7 if they buy a Vista-equipped PC before the launch of the new operating system. On Tuesday  Microsoft announced that it would start selling Windows 7 on Oct. 22, and acknowledged that it would have some kind of free or discounted upgrade offer in place before that.

Other than the name of the program – “Windows 7 Upgrade Option” – the company remained silent on the deal’s details, including start and end dates, how much computer makers and retailers will charge for the upgrade, or even what versions of Windows Vista will be eligible. But TechARP.com, a Web site that has a solid track record in pegging Microsoft plans, said that PCs with a license for Vista Home Premium, Vista Business and Vista Ultimate purchased between June 26, 2009 and Jan. 31, 2010 will be eligible for a free or reduced-price Windows 7 upgrade.

Adobe offers virtual browser tool

Adobe has created a Web-hosted tool to help designers see how their sites look in a variety of browsers and operating systems, so they can adjust the layout as needed. BrowserLab, previously code-named Meer Meer, displays Web pages as rendered by different browsers and provides tools to identify design inconsistencies. The goal is to reduce the considerable time and effort that Web designers invest doing cross-browser testing. BrowserLab displays Web pages as rendered by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari in all their different operating system versions, according to the company. Adobe expects to increase the list of browsers and OSes.

Intuit buys online payroll provider

Intuit has agreed to buy online payroll provider PayCycle for US$170 million in a move to expand its software-as-a-service offerings for smaller businesses.  PayCycle providesonline payroll services to about 85,000 small businesses in the U.S. It was founded in 1999 by two former Intuit employees and says its mission is to “make paper-based payroll obsolete.” PayCycle already integrates with Intuit’s QuickBooks software. It is also offered as an option with Microsoft’s competing Money software, and it was unclear Tuesday if that will still be the case after Intuit completes its acquisition. Intuit will offer the service to small businesses directly, and also through accountants and financial institutions. It faces a growing list of competitors offering online payroll, including Sage, NetSuite, MPay, CompuPay and Paychex.

Day-long charge for netbooks close

The ability to run a netbook all day on a single battery charge is one of the goals Intel has set for itself as it develops the Atom platform. Mooly Eden, head of Intel’s mobile platforms group, said in an interview at the Computex trade show in Taipei on Wednesday, that “The idea is to deliver such a product that will be day-long. You’ll be able to go with your netbook without the need to carry the power supply.”That goal, a sure-fire way to get praise from road warriors, is more easily said than done. Energy density is a measure of the amount of energy that can be held by a battery for a given unit of volume. Increasing it would mean a battery could supply more power without being made bigger. However, achieving significant advances could take years.

Some PC makers are already advertising all-day use but that claim comes with caveats.

Asus, a leader in the netbook market, says consumers can “enjoy all-day computing with Eee PC” but that’s with the screen at 40 percent brightness, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disabled and the camera switched off.

And those are the top headlines from the IDG Global IT news update brought to you by the IDG News Service. This is Marc Ferranti in the New York bureau. Join us again later for more news from the world of technology..

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