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Windows Vista Pricing Slips Out

Whoops. In an apparent repeat of the revelation of Office 2007 pricing earlier this year, Amazon.com and Microsoft Canada seem to have lowered the veil on prices for Windows Vista's various incarnations a bit early.

While the faux pax by Microsoft Canada was apparently a mistake -- the company has since taken down the price list posted earlier this week (in Canadian dollars) -- it remains unclear whether the same is true of Amazon.com's pre-order pricing page, which is still online.

Pricing for most Vista SKUs (retail terminology meaning "stock keeping unit") seems to be in line with current pricing for Windows XP, according to analysts.

If the Amazon prices are correct, U.S. pricing for the high-end Vista Ultimate edition is $399 while Vista Home Premium is listed at $239. Upgrades from XP cost $259 and $159 respectively. Meanwhile, Vista Business edition costs $299, while Vista Home Basic costs $199. The delivery date listed on Amazon's site is January 30, 2007.

Other pricing includes additional licenses, which is where it gets a bit confusing. For instance, Amazon lists an additional license for customers who have already gotten Vista Ultimate for $359. But it also lists an additional license "upgrade" for Vista Ultimate at $233. Likewise, Amazon lists an additional license for Vista Business for $269, while also listing a Vista Business upgrade additional license at $179.

If the Amazon SKUs turn out to be Microsoft's overall packaging plans, which seems likely, at least one analyst says Microsoft's pricing plans for Vista are too complicated and are bound to create customer confusion.

"Jeepers creepers! Could Microsoft possibly have made this more confusing? ... Microsoft needs to make Windows easier to buy, not more difficult. There are too many choices. Windows isn't toothpaste," Joe Wilcox, senior operating systems analyst at JupiterResearch, said on his Weblog.

Microsoft officials did not respond to initial calls to confirm pricing and availability.

Though in recent years, most sales of new operating systems have come from the sale of new PCs with the OS pre-installed, there may be significant increases in sales of retail units this time around. Driving that is the fact that Microsoft missed the crucial 2006 Christmas selling season when it had to delay Vista back in March.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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