Microsoft plans on cutting prices for its upcoming Windows 7 operating system as part of a massive and rapid worldwide rollout for the operating system, as it looks to both reverse its fortunes in the midst of an economic recession and erase memories of its much-maligned Vista operating system.
As announced, Microsoft will sell Windows 7 for roughly 10 percent less than Vista, and make the system broadly available for pre-order at substantial discounts through Amazon, Best Buy and the Microsoft Website starting on June 26. Those purchasing a PC preinstalled with Vista will have the option of upgrading through the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program, which will extend from June 26 through January 31, 2010.
"In the U.S., this means a customer buying Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade will pay only $119.99 instead of the $129.99 being charged today for its predecessor," LeBlanc wrote.
The full retail version of Windows 7 Home Premium will cost $40 less than Windows Vista Home Premium.
"We've really focused a lot of our efforts on getting the product out to as many people around the world as quickly as possible," Brandon LeBlanc, a spokesperson for Microsoft, wrote in a June 25 posting on the Windows Blog. "OEMs will start shipping PCs with Windows 7 in all language versions beginning on GA, Oct. 22."
On that date, Windows 7 will be available in 14 languages, including English, Spanish, Japanese, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Russian and Korean. On Oct. 31, another 21 languages will become available, including Turkish, Czech, Hungarian, Estonian, Hebrew, Thai and Latvian.
Microsoft's revenues depend heavily on its operating systems; roughly a third of the company's 2008 revenue, or $20 billion, came from sales of its OS. However, arch-rivals Google and Apple have introduced competitive alternatives, putting pressure on Microsoft to produce a substantial OS hit in order to prevent its dominant market share from eroding.
That particular cause wasn't helped by the January 2007 rollout of Vista, which failed to live up to expectations and compelled many vendors to offer customers the ability to downgrade back to Windows XP. In reaction, Microsoft attempted with Windows 7 to directly counter many Vista complaints, including compatibility issues.
While Microsoft is focusing much of its Windows 7 push on high-end PCs, which offer higher margins, rumors abound that the company also plans on adapting the OS for mini-notebooks, also known as "netbooks," a segment of the PC market currently undergoing explosive growth.
Given the importance of pushing the operating system onto as many PCs as possible, Microsoft is also partnering with Hewlett-Packard to simplify the Windows Upgrade Option Program for those customers purchasing systems from the world's largest PC maker.
HP claims that its systems currently running Windows Vista will meet the hardware requirements to run Windows 7 once the upgrade becomes available on Oct. 22.
Those upgrading will receive both the upgrade and an upgrade utility disk, along with an installation guide. An HP Upgrade Assistant will install the necessary drivers on the user's machine, while an HP Support Website will update with new drivers as they become available.