Microsoft has released the retail prices for Windows 7, so let's dive right in.
 
For full retail versions:
  • Home Premium Full: $199
  • Professional Full: $299
  • Ultimate Full: $319
For retail upgrades:
  • Home Premium Upgrade: $119
  • Professional Upgrade: $199
  • Ultimate Upgrade: $219
This doesn't include OEM pricing. OEM versions cost significantly less since the license is non-transferable from one computer (defined as a motherboard by Microsoft) to another, but due to volume discounts we don't know what the exact pricing will be. Individual units tend to go for one-half the price of a full retail kit, so adjust accordingly.

This means that we also don't have the prices for Home Basic and Starter. Home Basic is limited to developing countries, but Starter is not. Presumably Starter is going to be dirt-cheap (relatively speaking) to match the margins of the Netbooks Microsoft is trying to pair it with. Copies of XP for use on Netbooks have been rumored to be as cheap as $15 for the biggest OEMs.

Of note, users hoping for a cheap upgrade path from Vista are going to be disappointed. The retail upgrade kits are for Vista and XP, and are priced accordingly. This may be good for picking up the stragglers who are still on XP, but it's not going to do any favors for Microsoft in picking up Vista users. Vista-to-Win7 pricing is likely too high for the limited differences between the two.

As compared to Vista pricing, Win7 Home Premium is roughly 10% cheaper than it is for Vista, in particular hitting the somewhat magical $199 price point for a full version that Vista Home Premium never reached. I had been expecting Microsoft to do $99 for the Home Premium upgrade (never underestimate the value in manipulating consumers when superficially chopping off a digit in a price) but it looks like that's not in the cards.

Win7 Professional prices are unchanged compared to Windows Vista Business. Microsoft will be selling this as a reasonable price since Win7 Professional is not stripped of Home Premium's features like Vista Business was, but the OEMs in particular aren't going to be amused. There has been some saber rattling recently between some of the OEMs and Microsoft over this matter, as they wanted the price to come down on Professional/Business to shore up their margins.

Last, Ultimate is going to be priced significantly lower than it was for Vista's launch, although in recent months it has been priced lower because of slow sales due to its silly price in the first place. Microsoft's list price of $319 is well above what Vista Ultimate is going for right now ($250 at Newegg) so some things may still be in flux, or Microsoft is trying to burn off boxed copies of Vista Ultimate. Regardless, Win7 Ultimate will only be priced $20 above Win7 Business, an appropriate price given the few differences between it and Professional. However given that it's just a few differences and Microsoft's own intentions to downplay it, it's probably not going to be a big seller.

On a final note, Microsoft is starting to pander to the bargain hunters early, so if you have been waiting for a Win7 version of Power Together, The Ultimate Steal, or other Microsoft discount promotions, pay attention. Microsoft will be taking pre-orders for Win7 upgrades through some of their closest retail partners (Newegg, Best Buy, etc) starting tomorrow and ending July 11th. The Home Premium and Professional upgrades will be priced at $49 and $99 respectively. I'll update this post tomorrow with links once we have them.

Meanwhile in a strange turn of events, Europe is going to be getting an even better pre-order deal. Microsoft has been having legal issues in the region, most recently with regard to Internet Explorer, so this may be an attempt to placate the European Commission. Pre-orders there will be for the full versions, and will be priced at roughly €49.99 ($70) and €109.99 ($154) respectively for Home Premium and Professional, with prices likely varying some between countries. This may end up being the cheapest way to get a full version of Win7 at the moment, depending on one's ability to find a participating retailer that will ship to North America, and what those shipping charges will be alongside Customs fees and taxes.
 
Update:
 
The pre-order sales have started. Microsoft has a site up with all of the participating vendors, including Newegg, Amazon, and Fry's. It looks like a couple of vendors have broken the MSRP, Costco is selling both versions for $5 less.
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  • mikefarinha - Thursday, July 02, 2009 - link

    Well, to be objective Windows 7 Ultimate does not have the same allure as Vista Ultimate. The biggest deal with Vista Ultimate was not the Ultimate Extras that the critic's constantly lampooned (for good reason) but the fact that Vista Ultimate = Vista Business + Windows Media Center.

    Windows 7 negates a lot of this. In fact the put some of the enticing features of Win7 Pro into Win7 Home Premium like IIS 7.5 and Volume Shadow Copy (Previous Version).

    In fact the only reason to get Win7 Pro over Home Premium is if you want
    -Offline files
    -RDP Host (you can several free products for this)
    -Network Backup (Not needed if you have a WHS)
    -Domain Join (You either need it or you don't)
    -Windows XP Mode (Or use Virtual Box/Virtual PC and your own XP license)
    -Encrypting File System
    -Location Aware Printing

    The only reason for Win 7 Ultimate over Win 7 Pro are
    -Boot from VHD
    -App Locker
    -Bit Locker
    -Branch Cache
    -Direct Access
    -Federated Search
    -Multi Languages

    None of the Ultimate features are the sexy geek features that you'd think, just a bunch of corporate features that Joe Geek wouldn't ever use. Also OSX doesn't have any of those features so you can't really compare the two.

    When you look at Win 7 Pro it is hard to justify the extra cost for the marginal extra features.
    Reply
  • sebmel - Thursday, July 02, 2009 - link

    I'm by no means an expert on corporate features but some of those Windows 'only' technologies sound familiar.

    VHD is Connectix file format and they wrote a Mac version... Parallels use a similar HDD file format... having said that a Mac user would be much more likely to use an external firewire HD for multiple OS booting.

    App Locker - isn't that just parental controls (previously simply a limited account)? That's been in the OS a few years.

    Bit Locker - FileVault? I believe that was introduced in OS X 10.5.

    Network Backup - Time Machine? Mac OS X 10.5.

    XP Mode - Parallels, VMWare, CrossOver or BootCamp (10.4, I believe)

    Multi Languages - International Control Panel? I can't remember being without multiple language options for menus. Currently the OS also spell checks throughout the applications in various languages too... it's spell checking in English as I type this in the browser... 14 languages and Multilingual. Built in Dictionary and Thesaurus too... just put the cursor over any word and hit a keyboard command.

    Federated Search - If that's just multiple searches at the same time then it's Sherlock from OS 8.5 in the 90s... but I guess there's more to it than that.

    The others I'm not familiar with. Perhaps some are features of Mac OS X Server.
    Reply
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 - link

    Microsoft knows that anyone that purchased Ultimate before is their biatch and they are glad to keep milking them for more dough. Reply
  • dolcolax - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    hi, i have a question, can i buy this win 7 upgrade and install it on a laptop with pre installed OS? Reply
  • bill3 - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    dont expect an answer. apparently nobody knows the answers to even the most basic questions about this

    i think your question is similar to mine if i can install it on oem. no answers yet though.
    Reply
  • dolcolax - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    i guess the best we can do is visit the store and ask someone working there. Reply
  • bill3 - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    First of all I have the same question as an earlier person, I have OEM Vista, and I'm wondering if the retail upgrade applies to me?

    My next question is, having Vista 64, I wonder if Win 7 is even worth it?

    Next, I've often read that upgrade installations are to be avoided, that they're always buggy etc, and to always stick with a clean installation So..is it even advisable to upgrade at all?

    Theres also the fact I believe on Vista, there was a sneaky, unapproved way to do a clean install with the upgrade version only, will the same apply to Win 7?

    Also, lets say I want to do a new build, or even just reinstall (theres countless reasons or problems that may cause reinstall, hell some crazy people even reinstall every single time they change video card drivers!). Now how does that work? Would I have to reinstall my OEM Vista first, then redo the upgrade?

    Even though I'm on OEM, and it's supposed to only be for one mobo, I've always heard/figured it would be good for at least one more build, as I've hear just calling MS and telling them your mobo fried will usually work for another install. Of course, that doesnt even address reinstalls on the same mobo.

    All in all I'm pretty on the fence whether this 49 upgrade is worth it to me..it's rather confusing. I mean this seems only good for people who have retail vista and can move it around, do countless clean reinstalls etc.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    "First of all I have the same question as an earlier person, I have OEM Vista, and I'm wondering if the retail upgrade applies to me?"
    Upgrade kits have always applied to all versions of Windows; retail and OEM alike.
    Reply
  • bill3 - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    But of course, the reason I dont just have retail Vista is it's EXPENSIVE.

    When I did my build from newegg I just picked up OEM Vista for 99 bucks. It was another added expense to be sure, but I felt it was worth it. First time I've been legit in ages (if only because pirating Vista (and then keeping MS from blacklisting it) is not the breeze XP was..) but hey it does feel good to be legit..



    Reply
  • djc208 - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    Hopped on this one first thing this morning. Took a little while to decide between the two versions but with my Windows Home Server I don't need most of the features in the business version, so I stuck with the cheaper Home version.

    I'll take the extra $50 and apply it toward a new SSD to run it on.

    Don't think the regular price is worth it if you're coming from Vista, but the pre-order price is good enough to justify the cost. If your coming from XP like I am this is a steal.
    Reply

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