Microsoft has finally revealed the much anticipated details of its program to let customers who buy a PC that is Windows Vista capable over the holiday season upgrade to the new operating system.
Microsoft officials have said they are on track for a release of Vista to volume license business customers in November, and to consumers in January 2007.
The new initiative, known as the Express Upgrade to Windows Vista and Microsoft Office Technology Guarantee program, will be in effect from October 26, 2006 to March 15, 2007 and will be managed in two different ways: by PC manufacturers where the operating system is preloaded, and by Microsoft from system builders.
Microsoft has decided to let OEMs like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Sony and Lenovo decide individually how they want to roll out the upgrade program to Vista for those customers who buy their hardware with Windows XP preinstalled during this time, Kevin Kutz, a director in Microsofts Windows Client group, told eWEEK.
"We set this program up for our OEM partners to manage, price and customize what they feel is the best offer for their customers. They are taking care of how they inform their customers about the offer and how they plan to fulfill it," Kutz said, acknowledging that this could mean that the upgrade offerings from the different vendors may differ.
With regard to the smaller PC makers, known as system builders, Microsoft will provide customers with Windows Vista upgrade discount coupons when they buy a qualifying Vista Capable PC.
While the offer will vary by region, the plan for the United States is that upgrades for PCs bought from system builders from Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to Windows Vista Home Premium will be offered for the cost of shipping and handling, as will upgrades from Windows XP Professional, Windows Tablet PC Edition, and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition to Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Business 64.
But upgrades from Windows XP Home Edition to Windows Vista Home Basic, and from Windows XP Home to Windows Vista Home Premium, will be offered at a 50 percent discount, which translates into $49 and $79 respectively, before shipping and handling, which is estimated to cost about $10.
Microsoft is also going to let customers who buy PCs pre-installed with Microsoft Office 2003 upgrade to the comparable editions of the 2007 Microsoft Office release for the cost of shipping and handling.
Microsoft is recommending that people who are considering buying Windows Vista Capable PCs during the holiday season consider those machines that are designated Premium Ready and which come with Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition or Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 preinstalled.