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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  • Digobick - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    The European pricing is nice, but you failed to mention that Europeans will only get "Windows 7 E" - meaning no Internet Explorer. And because Microsoft hasn't fully tested upgrades from Windows Vista to Windows 7 E, the company will be disabling upgrades installs entirely (clean installs only).

    So yes, it's a nice deal...if you don't mind what's in the fine print.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Thursday, July 02, 2009 - link

    I think thats great, no IE tied in, woot

    and who wants to do overinstals anyway, whether its an upgrade or not.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    Not accurate. The european windows 7 box comes with an additional disc that contains IE. So, they do get IE, just not included in the OS install. I think MS could have saved some money by just making it an optional download via windows update the first time the machine is connecting to the internet... Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    If those are the only items of fine print, it is hardly a loss. Obviously MS won't be blocking those who want IE from installing it. And doing a clean install isn't the end of the world. Reply
  • jaggerwild - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    But I for one will not be rushing out to give Bill Gates my money, I will just stick to striping down my "Home Basic Vista 64 bit" as I'm used to it already.
    Great Job Bill!
    Reply
  • gwolfman - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    I'm glad the pricing is more reasonable (the pre-order upgrades at least). I'd like to see this more often M$! Reply
  • know of fence - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    On how many different PCs (motherboards) will I be able to intall and activate Win7? Will I run out of licenses at some point?

    There has to be limits even for the non OEM-Versions. Its funny how this cruicial information is omitted, wherever I look. Usually DRM states the number of possible installation.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    There's no legal limit. You're licensed to move it to as many machines as you'd like.

    However there does seem to be an undefined technical limit, at which point the activation system gets suspicious. Poor Gary is blacklisted from the online activation system because of just how frequently he reinstalls Vista due to his motherboard trials - he has to phone it in every time. At no point has he ever been denied from activating it however, to my knowledge.
    Reply
  • sebmel - Saturday, June 27, 2009 - link

    There is some ambiguity here:

    How many motherboards running at the same time? One

    How many motherboards changed over the lifetime of a single computer? This is an interesting question I have never heard a clear answer from Microsoft about.

    At times they have tested the waters with comments suggesting full motherboard linkage: that's to say there were suggestions that one would need a new license every time one bought a motherboard. To date they have never tested the market with this and I think they haven't because they realise it wouldn't be accepted.

    Does anyone know how many online re-activations of Windows are currently necessary to flag up a piracy concern at Redmond?
    Reply
  • just4U - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 - link

    I've done alot of installs using OEM licenses when changing boards.. From what I can tell..

    If it's not frequent it might not require a call in. But if you did say switched in your board after installing vista say .. within 6 months then it would require a call in.

    I don't know how legal it is from the user agreements standpoint but I do it all the time when upgrading peoples machines or testing new boards on my own computer.
    Reply

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