A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced the pricing for Windows 7 and, much to the disappointment of those looking for a a cheap upgrade like Apple’s $29 OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard”, retail copies of Windows 7 will cost about the same as for Windows Vista (pretty much).
Although the European prices originally looked steeper, for the time being (and at least until the end of 2009), European customers will get a full packaged product at the price originally intended for upgrades. Quoting Bill Veghte, Senior Vice President for Microsoft’s Windows Business in a letter to the Financial Times:
“We typically offer two Windows versions to retail customers: a full version for use on any computer and an upgrade version â€“ at a lower price â€“ that can only be used on computers that are already licensed for Windows. In light of recent changes we made to European versions of Window 7, we will not have an upgrade version available in Europe when we release the new operating system. Therefore, we’ve decided to offer the full version of Windows 7 to all customers at the lower upgrade price. In the future we may have an upgrade offering of Windows 7 available in Europe, and at that time we would revert to differential pricing of the full and upgrade versions, as we have in the rest of the world. This means that we will always have the lower upgrade pricing available for European consumers who are already licensed for Windows.”
For many business, the advertised prices for Windows are of little conseqence as only a small number will buy a full packaged product version – OEM licenses are available for System Builders and Volume Licensing is available to businesses with more than 5 seats. Over in consumer-land things are a bit different though – I understand that Apple is cross-subsiding its operating system with its hardware sales but a multi-PC edition of Windows 7 Home Premium (similar to the 3-install Office 2007 Home and Student Edition) would have been a reasonable thing to expect from Microsoft. It, seems they didn’t think so, regardless of their statements about “economic resets”.
As expected, there is a Windows 7 Upgrade Option Programme that started on 26 June 2009 and ends with Windows 7 general availability on 22 October 2009. It’s important to understand that, even though Microsoft is offering the upgrade free of charge, PC makers may charge a fee to send media to customers.
Customers also get a limited time opportunity to pre-order Windows 7 with a special price. For volume license customers, Windows 7 will be available from 1 September 2009 with a 15-35% limited time promotional discount based on license volumes and geographic location (as announced by Bill Veghte at the Worldwide Partner Conference keynote). In addition, starting today (15 July 2009), until 9 August 2009 (or while stocks last), UK customers can pre-order Windows 7 Home Premium E Edition for Â£49.99 or Windows 7 Professional E Edition for Â£99.99 (there have been similar deals in other countries). The UK retailers for this offer are:
- Microsoft Store.
- John Lewis.
- Micro Anvika.
- PC World.
Note that this is for the E Editions (I’m really annoyed about this whole E Edition nonsense). When they were announced, I wondered how it would affect those of us trying to put together Windows 7 images for deployment in several geographies (will we need one image for Europe and another for the rest of the world?) and, based on the editions available for pre-order, it seems that Microsoft really will only ship E Edition to European Union member countries. Not just an optional N Edition as with XP and Vista (and 7) for No Windows Media Player (or Nobody bought it!) but a compulsory E Edition for Everyone has to fall in line with the EU’s stupid vendetta against Microsoft.
I’m still trying to get some answers from Microsoft about how I can create a build image for global deployment as I’m not 100% certain that creating a global build based on US media will be acceptable from a support or licensing perspective…
Other points for European users to be aware of include that:
- Because there is no upgrade from Windows Vista to the E edition of Windows 7 you’ll need to back up all of your files and settings, install the operating system, then re-install your files, settings, and programs. And, because the E editions of Windows 7 do not contain a web browser, Microsoft’s advice is:
“Please get a browser from Microsoft or a third party and have it on a CD/DVD or another device so it’s ready to install after the Windows 7 installation is complete.”
(Failing that, there’s always a command line FTP client!)
- I’ve not seen a reference to this anywhere else but CNET is reporting that:
Unlike the rest of the world, everybody in Europe gets to install 7 E on more than one machine, providing it’s not running on more than one machine at a time, and we don’t have to pay extra for the privilege, unlike our non-European cousins.
(I’m not convinced about that one…)
Frankly, E Edition is a mess. If the EU thinks that this aids competition then it can only be as a result of all the ensuing chaos and confusion… hopefully Microsoft and the EU can resolve their differences soon.
[Updated @15:17 to acknowledge that there is an N edition for Windows 7]