RealTime IT News

Vista's Pricing Not Exciting

Amazon.com has posted the prices for the numerous flavors of Windows Vista, some of which are in line with previous versions and one of which can induce sticker shock.

By taking pre-orders for Vista, Amazon  has tipped Microsoft's hand. Microsoft  declined to comment on the veracity of prices listed on Amazon.

"It is still too premature for us to comment on the final pricing for Windows Vista. We plan to announce Windows Vista U.S. pricing when we ship Windows Vista RC1, later this quarter," said Kevin Kutz, a director in the Windows Client unit at Microsoft, in a statement to internetnews.com.

Vista is currently in a "pre-RC1" form, with the latest build available for 100,000 beta testers. Release Candidate 1 is expected in September, which would keep the company on track for a year-end completion date it has projected. Vista is expected to ship to retail outlets in January.

Vista will come in two flavors, Home and Business. Windows Vista Home Basic, the low-end of the product line, will cost $199 for the full product or $99.95 for the upgrade edition, which is what XP Home Edition's full and upgrade versions cost, respectively.

Vista Premium, the mid-range consumer product similar to the Media Center edition of Windows XP, will cost $239 for a full version of $159 for the upgrade. On the high end, Vista Ultimate will run a hefty $399. The upgrade version will run $259. Ultimate combines the home premium and business versions in one package.

Windows Vista Business, which is the rough equivalent to Windows XP Professional, will cost $299, the same price as XP Professional. The upgrade is $199, also the same price as the XP Professional upgrade.

All of the prices were what Greg DeMichillie, lead analyst for Directions on Microsoft was expecting, although he felt the Ultimate edition was too high for what it delivered. The bigger issue for him was the additional license fees.

An additional license for Home Premium is $215, just $24 less than the full price and the Home Basic additional license is $89. The additional license for Business is $179, $20 less than the upgrade price.

"I think they are totally blowing it with those additional licenses you can purchase," he said. "There are many households with multiple PCs and Microsoft is doing nothing to make it easy for them to upgrade all their PCs."

Then again, he suspects Microsoft would rather people purchase a new PC and get Vista pre-loaded, for two reasons: the customer doesn't have a bad Vista experience trying to run it on their old Celeron system with 256MB of RAM, and if there is a problem with a new system, it's the OEM's support issue, not Microsoft's.

Still, he said, it's shortsighted. Apple, by comparison, has a multiple machine license option for MacOS X 10.4, where a five-user version sells for $199 and the single user version is $99.

The single-user version of Mac OS X doesn't have product activation like Windows XP and Vista, so there is nothing to stop someone from buying one copy and installing it on three separate machines. Still, Mac users buy the multi-user pack because of its legitimacy, said DeMichillie.

"All this screaming about piracy misses the point," he said. "Most people pirate when the price is outrageous. I can't imagine a multi-PC household spending that much money to upgrade every PC."