Microsoft Corp. Wednesday unveiled more discounts and upgrade options for Windows Vista aimed at jump-starting sales of the operating system.
Probably the most dramatic is a discount for families running multiple computers at home. From Jan. 30 to June 30, North American customers who purchase an upgrade or full retail copy of Windows Vista Ultimate will be able to buy one or two additional copies of Windows Vista Home Premium for use on other PCs for US$49.99 each.
Windows Vista Home Premium lists for $239 for a full retail version and $159 for an upgrade from Windows XP or 2000.
But to get the discounted price, users will have to lay out a tidy sum: $399 for a full version of Windows Vista Ultimate or $259 for the upgrade from Windows XP or 2000.
While the discount is targeted at families, small businesses can take advantage of it, too, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.
However, customers who only own an OEM version of Windows Vista Ultimate — that is, one that was preinstalled when they bought a new PC — are not eligible for the discount, the spokeswoman said.
Microsoft is sensitive to some projections by industry analysts that Vista’s sales will be initially sluggish, with consumers and corporations eschewing features such as Vista’s graphical and security enhancements.
The company has taken a number of steps to raise buzz and sales of the operating system.
For instance, having missed the traditionally key holiday shopping season, Microsoft is offering vouchers to consumers who bought their PCs in the past three months that can be redeemed for Vista upgrades after its official release on Jan. 29.
It also gave away free laptops installed with Windows Vista Ultimate to influential technology bloggers.
Microsoft announced another upgrade program for customers Wednesday. Called Windows Anytime Upgrade, customers will be allowed to upgrade to more powerful versions of Vista by simply clicking within Windows, purchasing an upgrade from Microsoft’s Web site and downloading an activation key. All of the most popular PC brands, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, will ship with separate CD-ROMs, which, when installed, enable the Anytime Upgrades.
Users may then upgrade either OEM versions or full retail versions of Windows Vista.
Upgrade prices are as follows:
— Home Basic to Home Premium, $79
— Home Basic to Ultimate $199
— Home Premium to Ultimate $159
— Business to Ultimate $139
Moreover, after the upgrade, users who originally owned an OEM version of Vista will own a full retail version of Vista, the Microsoft spokeswoman said.
Retail versions of Vista generally allow users to install the operating system on another computer if the first one dies, though only one such transfer is allowed.
OEM versions of Windows are tied to the original computer it was installed on. Microsoft does not allow users to transfer OEM copies from one computer to another, even if the original one crashes and dies.
The Microsoft spokeswoman could not confirm whether Anytime Upgrade customers will have full transfer rights.
More information can be found at www.windowsanytimeupgrade.com after Jan. 30.
Finally, Microsoft confirmed an earlier announcement that customers will be able to buy several versions of Windows Vista and 2007 Microsoft Office and download them online from a Microsoft e-commerce site, Windowsmarketplace.com. For now, online versions are available in English only. Prices are the same as retail.
Techies with MSDN or TechNet subscriptions have been able to download and buy Windows Vista since the end of November. Microsoft also allowed small business customers to download Vista after paying for volume licenses at CompUSA.