Vista Coupon Craziness

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2006-10-31 Print this article Print

Opinion: Microsoft has a new scheme for PC vendors, but it may backfire, as users and vendors become 'sick to death' of upgrading from XP to Vista.

So, since Microsoft flopped at getting Vista out by years end, it has a new scheme to make its PC-making buddies happy: coupons. I guess Microsoft figures if it works for your local grocery store, maybe it will work for Hewlett-Packard and Dell, too.
Heres how the coupon deal works. If you buy a PC with Windows XP Professional from a big name vendor, youll get a coupon for an upgrade path to Windows Vista Business Edition. If you buy a PC with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 or Windows XP Home Edition? Then you can upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium Edition.
Now, if you buy a boxed copy of Windows XP Professional or you get your XP Professional from a second-tier or smaller OEM, your upgrade choices will be from Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to Windows Vista Home Premium; from Windows XP Home Edition to Windows Vista Home Basic or to Windows Vista Home Premium. With XP Pro, XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 and XP Pro x64 Edition, you can upgrade to Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Business 64. The pitch is that you will be so excited about knowing that you can get Vista for cheap, that youll go ahead and rush out to get a new PC for Christmas. There are just a couple of problems with this idea. First, Microsoft wont be honoring those coupons. It will be the computer vendors, and each of them will offer upgrades in its own way. So, for example, Dell spokesperson Bob Kaufman has said that the company plans to charge $45 plus shipping and handling to move from Windows XP Home to Vista Home Basic, the upgrade from Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to Vista Home Premium and from Windows XP Pro to Vista Home Premium will incur only a shipping and handling fee. Dell will not require a proof of purchase. HP, on the other hand, will let you upgrade for free if you buy a system with a "Windows Vista Capable" XP operating system between Oct. 26, 2006, and March 15, 2007. However, you will have to provide a proof of purchase to get the upgrade, and you may or may not have to pay for shipping. In short, each company has its own rules. So, when youre making your Christmas PC list, youll need not only to check prices, but youll also need to look in on your upgrade-path costs as well. That will be loads of fun. Part of the fun also will be deciding which version of Vista you want to upgrade to anyway. I recently made some suggestions about how to get the right Vista for you, but now youre going to have price out the upgrade paths as well before you can make an informed decision. Which Vista is right for you? Click here to read more. OK, so maybe you dont care about $30 bucks here or there. But, then comes the "best" part of the coupon deal: You have to replace XP whatever on your new PC with Vista. I am also grinning at how many Windows fanatics are going to crash and burn when they try to make the Vista switch. I hear from people —often from areas near Redmond, Wash., for some reason