Microsoft has finally issued a press release confirming all the different ways consumers will be able to get Vista, and in doing so they’ve clarified a lot of what we weren’t sure about. Let’s take a look:
- Windows Marketplace – Microsoft’s online store, which sells software for download (both Microsoft and third-party software for Windows) will have Windows Vista available for downloads. Yes, for the first time ever, you will be able to download a Microsoft operating system, available at the standard retail price. The Marketplace uses Digital Locker technology to ensure that the process is about as convenient as owning the actual CD, including letting you resume interrupted downloads (which should take 3-4 hours on a modern broadband connection) and helping you out if you need to reinstall.
The Marketplace will have:
â€¢ Windows Vista Business
â€¢ Windows Vista Home Basic
â€¢ Windows Vista Home Premium
â€¢ Windows Vista Ultimate
â€¢ Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
â€¢ Microsoft Office Professional 2007
â€¢ Microsoft Office Standard 2007
- Windows Anytime Upgrade – Anytime Upgrade will let owners of any version of Vista upgrade to a better one after installing the operating system, letting you get the features you wish you had paid for in the beginning. The upgrade paths are:
â€¢ Windows Vista Home Basic » Windows Vista Home Premium = $79 ($20 above upgrade pricing of $159, $40 above full version pricing of $239)
â€¢ Windows Vista Home Basic » Windows Vista Ultimate = $199 ($40 above upgrade pricing of $259, equal to full version pricing of $400)
â€¢ Windows Vista Home Premium » Windows Vista Ultimate = $159 ($60 above upgrade pricing of $259, equal to full version pricing of $400)
â€¢ Windows Vista Business » Windows Vista Ultimate = $139 ($80 above upgrade pricing of $259, $40 above full version pricing of $400)
As you can see, customers who bought Upgrade versions of Vista wind up getting a raw deal, with the better version of Vista you paid for translating into a more expensive upgrade path. The worst deal is buying an upgrade for Windows Vista Business for $200, then paying $139 to get Ultimate, for a total of $339, while upgrading to Ultimate originally would have cost you just $259! Still, these deal seems more for new computers, and letting those who buy a new PC with Windows now upgrade to a better version later is smart. If you are upgrading a PC now, buy the version you are going to want later, since if you have to use Anytime Upgrade, it’s gonna cost ya.
- Windows Vista Family Discount – Anyone who buys Windows Vista Ultimate in stores between now and June 30, 2007, will be able to unlock two additional copies of Windows Vista Home Premium for $50 apiece.
This means that if you buy an upgrade to Ultimate for $259 (and buying the full version wouldn’t make much sense, since you are buying it at retail, and we assume you aren’t building your own computer), you can get Home Premium for two more PCs for $100, for a total of $360. That means you can upgrade three computers, all to versions with Windows Media Center (and one with the uber-cool Ultimate) for just $120 apiece!
To explain how much you are saving:
â€¢ Upgrading three PCs at retail to Windows Vista Home Premium would cost $160 apiece, for a total of $480. You save $120, or $40 per PC on the discount, and you get a free copy of Ultimate.
â€¢ If you buy extra licenses for Windows Vista Home Premium, they’re $143 apiece, for a total of $445 (the first copy is still full price). You save $100 this time on the discount, or $33 per PC, and you get a free copy of Ultimate.
â€¢ I you buy Windows Vista Ultimate at retail, and buy two extra licenses for Home Premium (the cheapest non-discount way to get the same products as in the deal), you pay $560 ($259 + $150 + $150). You’d save $200 with the discount, or $66 per PC.
I hate that this is a limited time deal, but I’m thinking the real reason it is limited is so Microsoft can see how the marketplace responds, and adjust pricing as necessary. Apparently, we have Robert McLaws to thank for at least some of this, since he pressured Jim Allchin a year ago to come up with a Family Pack, and they did.
All in all, a lot of complicated ways to buy Windows Vista. Microsoft (or anyone) should come up with a tool that asks you how many PCs you own or plan to buy, how powerful those PCs are, and advises you on which deal to get. Plus, there’s the fact that you can buy Vista significantly cheaper from some online stores that messes up all the calculations, since now there’s an extra price factor to consider.
Still, if you felt Windows was too expensive, you’ve got a lot of options now, if you do your homework. Search for the right promotions, and you could conceivably use the entire Family Discount for just $100 a PC, and that’s never been offered before.