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.
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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  • machinegoesping - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    be careful with trying to install it on that new ssd. i've phoned microsoft three times regarding so-called clean installs and have gotten three different answers as well as innumerable answers on the internet. the various answers could be from my various phrasings, or they could be trying to skate around the real answer, but here goes...

    the first time i asked them if i could do a "clean" install with the upgrade media. the person said, "yes, a clean install is possible." i then read varying responses on the internet, so i phoned them again. this time i asked, "is it possible to do a clean install without already having windows xp or vista installed on the harddrive?" to which the response was "yes, provided you have a valid product key." and, again i read that this was not true, so i phoned again. this time i asked the person on the line if i could speak with someone in tech support. i was transferred and i then asked the question, "is it possible to install the upgrade media on a virgin drive, on which no previous windows os has ever been installed?" the response i got was "no, it is not possible to use the upgrade media in that manner." i then asked the same person whether "having a valid key handy during the install would make this possible?" and i was told that "the upgrade media requires a previous os installed on the drive." he then continued, "there were certain work-arounds in the past, such as installing the operating system without activating, rebooting, then reinstalling the system with activation. these sorts of install methods with upgrade media are being investigated and we are considering implementing a method to thwart such installations."

    so, i don't know what to buy. i prefer not installing win xp on my drive and then installing win 7. it just seems like a bit of a pain in the arse. i guess i'll wait for oem pricing.
  • sebmel - Saturday, June 27, 2009 - link

    Thanks for pointing that out. This is an important issue to resolve for an OS with a reputation for needing 6 monthly reinstalls.

    If Microsoft have decided that customers buying upgrade CDs are going to have to do two installs to do a clean install of an OS that is notoriously time consuming to install they clearly still don't feel the OS market is sufficiently competitive for them to have to have to treat their customers to a pleasant experience.

    Even the most vitriolic of Apple Computer's critics ought to be wishing for the day when Apple's market share causes Microsoft to think twice about how they treat users of Windows OS.

    Competition between companies is good for consumers.

    Disclosure: I have used both Macs and PCs since 1996. Currently a clean XP install takes me about 1.5 hours. Mac OS X 10.5 takes me 2 minutes of work and 10 minutes for the computer. The main difference is that Mac OS asks all the questions at the end, while Windows keeps hanging during the process waiting for responses.
  • mcnabney - Tuesday, June 30, 2009 - link

    You must be doing something wrong.

    A clean XP install takes about 25 minutes, maybe 30 for Vista.
  • sebmel - Thursday, July 2, 2009 - link

    I guess I could achieve the same with all drivers to hand, and a modified disc image updated with all patches, and if I were prepared to sit and coax Windows through it's various demands for attention.
  • CJuser - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    Ok, so, how can you compare the two upgrade prices? They are completely different.

    Apple - $29
    Only from 10.5
    Only for Intel chipped Macs (per system requirements)
    10.4 Intel users get to pay full price
    Non intel users get screwed

    Microsoft - $49 (pre order)
    from XP or Vista
    Applies to anyone with a system that supports the minimum requirements (and can find Win 7 drivers for their system guts)
    Very short duration at this price

    Sure it's nice to try and put the $29 vs $49 argument out there, but it really meaningless...
  • sebmel - Saturday, June 27, 2009 - link

    Snow Leopard:
    Mac OS X 10.6 Upgrade from 10.5 $29
    Mac OS X 10.6 Upgrade from 10.5 Family Pack (5 licenses) $49

    Upgrade valid for Mac OS X 10.5 and Intel chips. Apple released Intel chipped iMacs and MacBooks in early 2006. Those that feel Apple is offering less than Microsoft here need to consider the compatibility and performance Windows 7 offers on computers released in 2005 or before.

    I recall complaints of slow performance from Vista on good computers at it's release in November 2006. So how will Windows 7 fare on computers a year older than that?

    Mac OS X 10.5 Full $129 ($99 Amazon)
    Mac OS X 10.5 Full Family Pack (5 licenses) $199 ($133 Amazon)

    Mac OS X, ILife, iWork Box Set $169 ($129 Amazon)
    Mac OS X, ILife, iWork Box Set Family Pack (5 licenses) $229 ($149 Amazon)

    These are full prices at the online Apple Store, unless otherwise stated.

    There are only two versions of the Macintosh OS, Client and Server. No limited functionality, cheaper versions exist.

    Windows 7 comparison:

    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

    At current prices a single FULL copy of the Windows OS (Ultimate) costs double the price of five full licenses for Mac OS X, accompanied by 5 licenses for iLife and iWork.

    There is no reason to believe Apple will not offer the same bundles for Snow Leopard when it is released later this year.
  • mikefarinha - Thursday, July 2, 2009 - link

    You cannot compare the price of the full version of Windows to OS X because you cannot legally make or buy a Mac that doesn't already have the OS installed on it. In effect you can only ever upgrade your copy of OS X because you've already purchased a computer with it preinstalled.

    The full version of Windows can be user-installed on 'virgin' hardware unlike OS X.
  • sebmel - Thursday, July 2, 2009 - link

    Any owner of an Intel Mac without a full license to Mac OSX 10.5 will need to buy a full copy license should they wish to run Mac OS X 10.6.

    Intel Macs were launched in January, 2006, running Mac OS X 10.4.6.
    Intel Macs with 10.5 pre-loaded were released in the Fall of 2007.

    Microsoft is offering to upgrade XP. Whether you take them up in that, or not, depends in large part on whether or not your hardware could run it. Vista was criticised as being slow on much hardware being released in late 2006. That is now the subject of a class action suit against Microsoft for mis-selling 'Vista Capable'.

    Windows 7 may be faster than Vista but isn't likely to be capable of running well on computers sold as early as January, 2006 without significant investment in upgrades. Criticism of Vista performance dogged uptake right up to the present day. It will be interesting to see to what extent Windows 7 manages to remedy that.

    Apple, on the other hand, didn't create that problem. Mac OS X 10.5 runs fast on early Intel Macs... I'm typing on one. Mac OS X 10.6 is designed to be faster than 10.5 on the same hardware.

    So Apple is offering a very cheap upgrade price on computers released in Fall 2007 (the point at which 10.5 was offered pre-loaded) and a midrange cost to those upgrading computers released in January 2006 (the Intel debut).

    You can compare that with Windows 7's realistic hardware specs.
  • sebmel - Saturday, June 27, 2009 - link

    Apple recently removed the serial number registration from iWorks.

    As a result there is no serial registration of any kind for the above mentioned products: Mac OS X, iLife and iWorks.

    It is also the case that their upgrade CDs have full copies of Mac OS X, and do clean installs.

    Neither are there any versions with missing functionality, or memory and multitasking limitations.
  • Griswold - Friday, June 26, 2009 - link

    Agreed. I wonder why so many people compare this - for many old customers - rotten apple deal to the redmond orange. It just doesnt work...

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