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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  • mtthwbrnd - Sunday, July 05, 2009 - link

    Are Microsoft having a laugh? Every release of Windows has been full of bugs, slow after a few months of use, and superseded by a new version by the time you get used to it.

    Sometimes I think that Microsoft are testing us all, seeing how far they can push things and get away with it.

    All the different prices, all the different levels of disablement, and then you know there will be several gigabytes of security updates and patches to download each week ... it is a joke. Are we being "compliance tested" here?

    Why are people prepared to use it even for free? Okay, at work you have got to use it because some idiot will have already made that stupid decision. But at home? Why torture yourself? Get a Mac or get Linux. If you share a computer with a Windows mug then install Virtual Box and use Ubuntu.

    Good news that London Stock Exchange has seen the light after their spectacular Windows/.NET induced down time recently. The more corporations that turn away from this appalling bad "solution" (no MS BS machine, it is not a "solution", it is a program!), the better for us all, and for our GDP.
    Reply
  • sebmel - Tuesday, July 07, 2009 - link

    "Sometimes I think that Microsoft are testing us all"

    You are right. That is the logical strategy of a monopoly. I remember when a private bypass was built in the midlands of the UK. The government didn't negotiate price control. Immediately the deal was done the CEO announced to the markets that:

    "Once open, if our customers aren't complaining [about our prices] then we haven't done our job right."

    The next thing they did was price lorries off their road (because of the damage the weight does) and back onto the route through the city the bypass was supposed to have eased congestion and air pollution on!

    Only regulation or competition puts an end to that sort of business strategy. In the US Microsoft doesn't face either. In Europe there's some rather slow regulation.

    Apple's growing, slowly, in the US at about 1% market share per year. If they keep that up you should see Microsoft treating customers with more respect at some point in the future.
    Reply
  • XPSM2010 - Thursday, July 02, 2009 - link

    What's the deal if you have Windows 7 RC installed and then want to use your upgrade for a clean install? Reply
  • lemonadesoda - Wednesday, July 01, 2009 - link

    What? "Half off" pricing?

    BACK TO SKOOL

    How can a tech site, of all sites, do such a poor job on the math?

    Embarrassing.
    Reply
  • Cannyone - Wednesday, July 01, 2009 - link

    I decided that I might as well take 50% off. So I ordered two copies of Professional and one of Home Premium. Now I just have to be ready, when it arrives... Reply
  • ccannon222 - Monday, June 29, 2009 - link

    I have a full version windows 98SE and an upgrade version of XP which I am using now. Can I use the upgrade version of Win7 or do I need to purchase the full version?

    Reply
  • lukechip - Sunday, June 28, 2009 - link

    Any ideas whether it will be possible to purchase an upgrade licence for a 64 bit version of Win 7 Pro and use it to upgrade an 32 bit OEM Vista Business ?

    My laptop came with 32 bit Vista and I've loaded 4 GB RAM into it, so want to move to 64 bit for my next OS.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, June 28, 2009 - link

    I really would like to buy this - but the 4 month wait is ridiculous. If I install the RC candidate, can I easily install the $49 upgrade version over this? Reply
  • Rubinsson - Sunday, June 28, 2009 - link

    Yes, most likely you could do an upgrade of your RC install but i doubt it is recommended by Microsoft and I do not recommend upgrade installs at all.

    Clean install(cleanly formatted and even better with a newly (re)created partition...) is the best way to go as you clean out a lot of crap...
    Reply
  • brshoemak - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 - link

    No, you would most likely NOT be able to perform an upgrade from a free RC candidate. Upgrades work on RTM (release to manufacturer, ie. the final version) versions only - full versions that have been purchased through an OEM supplier or retail. This has not worked in the past for XP and Vista, why would it work now?

    You get a reduced price on the upgrade because you have already paid for another full version of an MS OS, that is most likely what the upgrade installer is looking for during the installation. You would have to install Vista or XP and run the upgrade (or upgrade to clean install) from there.
    Reply

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