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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  • anilnithi - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    Thanks for sharing this informative blog. Reply
  • faxon - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    I have access to an MSDN Academic Alliance account via my college, and i plan to be enrolled in classes eligible for free software (including OSes) at the time of windows 7 launch. Do you guys have any word on which versions will be available via this particular type of MSDN subscription. I already have 2 keys for Vista Business from the same subscription, so chances are Professional will be. However, I need a Win7 copy pretty much as soon as it comes out for a project I will be working on at the time, and I am curious to know exactly what kind of disks the upgrade copies will require to properly install themselves onto your computer. All my copies of Vista are MSDN copies which I burned from the ISO I downloaded from Microsoft, as are many of the copies of XP Pro I have. I may have a retail copy of XP Pro lying around somewhere, but I cant be sure since I have been using MSDN copies since 2006. Any info on what exactly the retail upgrade copies require to work would be appreciated Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    I have yet to see an MSDNAA OS that wasn't Professional/Business, so your assumption is likely correct.

    As for whether you can do an upgrade install with an OEM Win7 key (which is what MSDNAA keys are) I'm afraid I have no idea. I'd assume it's done in whatever manner Vista handled it.
    Reply
  • faxon - Sunday, June 28, 2009 - link

    thanks for the input. i will look into it next time fry's microsoft rep comes into our store, which should be soon Reply
  • uhhh - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    The price of the Windows 7 Upgrade is pretty good. But what exactly does the upgrade require? How old can the previous Windows be? 95/98/NT? Reply
  • ViRGE - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    Quothe the article:

    "The retail upgrade kits are for Vista and XP"
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    Does the upgrade have to be from a previous retail copy? I have a OEM copy of XP MCE purchased from Newegg, can I use an upgrade? And what version does that translate to? Home Premium I assume? Reply
  • Lemonjellow - Saturday, June 27, 2009 - link

    I'd assume they'd allow an OEM disc to upgrade considering the number of folks out there who purchased store bought beige boxes with an OEM install of Vista on it from retailers... I doubt MS would pass up a chance to make money off of selling them an easy upgrade... Reply
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 - link

    Any legal XP or Vista key. Reply
  • uhhh - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    Right. Thank you, had overlooked this point. Reply

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