Why Is Microsoft Windows 7 Pricing So Confusing?

Microsoft has announced the pricing scheme for the various versions of its new Windows 7 operating system pricing. And once again, Microsoft is insisting on confusing some folks. At the same time, Apple offers a relatively easy pricing plan for its upcoming Snow Leopard operating system.

Microsoft is at it again.

The software giant announced more details about its launch of Windows 7, which is slated for release on Oct. 22. And in true Microsoft fashion, it announced a pricing scheme that could easily confuse consumers who are going to the store to pick up a copy of the new operating system.

It shouldn't surprise us. Right now, Microsoft offers four versions of Windows -- Home Basic, Home Premium, Business and Ultimate. They are priced at $199.95, $259.95, $299.95 and $319.95, respectively. Of course, Microsoft contends that pricing its versions like this has nothing to do with confusing consumers and everything to do with ensuring the company is getting what it deserves for the features each version of the operating system has.

On one level, that makes some sense. The more versions of an operating system, the more differences between the packages, the greater the need for different prices. At the same time, not everyone who buys an operating system at the store has done their research. And worst of all, depending on where they buy the software, the sales clerk might not even be able to help them. So, as they consider the various differences between the four operating systems Microsoft currently offers, they're left guessing which version is best for them by considering their name and price.

It must work for Microsoft. With the announcement of Windows 7 pricing, the company has further confused consumers. This time around, Microsoft announced that it will ship three versions of Windows 7, instead of four that it shipped for Windows Vista. Great. But it didn't do much to limit confusion in the marketplace.
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Windows 7 Home Premium will cost $120 for an upgrade and $200 if the user decides to purchase the full version. Windows 7 Professional boasts a $200 upgrade price tag and a $300 charge for the full version. Finally, Windows 7 Ultimate, the best version Microsoft has to offer, will retail for $220 as an upgrade and $320 as a full version. Microsoft contends it's making it "easier than ever" for consumers to find the right version of the software they want. But for most consumers and business customers that need to consider this pricing, it looks similar to what Microsoft tried with Windows Vista.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...