Microsoft has kicked off its Windows 7 pre-order programme, offering a discount of at least £100 on the Home Premium and Professsional versions.

Even though Windows 7 doesn't launch until 22 October, you can lay down just £49.99 for a copy of Home Premium and £99.99 for Professional. That's a large cut from the launch RRPs of £149.99 and £219.99, respectively.

The pre-orders are via retail partners such as Amazon, Argos and Comet.

On the UK pre-order page Microsoft is at pains to point out the lack of browser for EU installs. "Windows 7 E does not come with a browser in the UK and also requires a clean install... You will need to back up all your files before starting and you will need to have a browser such as Internet Explorer 8 or a browser from another software manufacturer saved to a CD/DVD or external storage device before starting."

It's been a busy couple of days for Microsoft, who also announced a free web-based version of Microsoft Office, Windows Azure and a music-streaming service to rival Spotify. Its Worldwide Partner Conference is currently taking place in the US.

You'll need a PC with these minimum recommended specifications to run Windows 7

  • 1GHz or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1GB RAM (32-bit) / 2GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16GB available disk space (32-bit) / 20GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver

You can also use the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to check if your system is compatible.