Windows 7 prices slashed – but Brits are hit hard again

Microsoft has slashed the price of Windows 7 – but Brits are still at an enormous disadvantage compared to US buyers.

Windows 7 prices slashed - but Brits are hit hard again

The Windows 7 launch will leave British buyers:

* Paying up to 60% more than their US counterparts for pre-order copies of Windows 7

* Unable to upgrade-in-place from earlier versions of Windows

* Forced to install Internet Explorer 8 from a separate disc if they’ve bought retail copies

The company will offer full versions of Windows 7 Home Premium on pre-order for £50 inc VAT, with the Professional version offered at the special price of £100. Microsoft claims there will be limited stock of the pre-order software from 15 July, which will be available from Amazon, Dixons stores and Microsoft’s own online store.

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However, US buyers are being offered upgrade versions of Home Premium for $50 and Professional for $100 – a straight dollar to pound conversion that leaves British buyers of the Professional edition almost £40 worse off than their US counterparts (excluding sales tax, which doesn’t apply in some US states).

Microsoft’s decision to rip Internet Explorer out of the European versions of Windows 7 also means there will no upgrade versions in Europe – a story PC Pro broke a fortnight ago.

Consequently, British buyers will have to start from scratch with a clean installation of the full software. “We had a decision to make about delaying the release of Windows 7 in Europe or doing some things differently,” Microsoft’s corporate vice president, Brad Brooks, told PC Pro.

“Lots of testing needed to happen around the [Internet Explorer-less] upgrade product that we couldn’t do in time. So we’ve decided to optimise for the full version.”

Microsoft decided to remove Internet Explorer following an EU ruling that bundling the browser with the operating system was anti-competitive.

The company insists British buyers are not being ripped off on the pre-order prices. “You’re looking at two different products,” said John Curran, Windows project lead in the UK. “In the UK we don’t have upgrade versions available. The full version is valid on any PC, regardless of what the previous operating system was. You can transfer it to any PC you choose. It is a different offering [to the upgrade versions in the US].”

Full prices

Buyers who can’t get their hands on the discounted pre-order copies will have to pay full price for Windows 7.

However, Microsoft has decided to give UK customers the full version of Windows 7 at upgrade prices until the end of the year. “We couldn’t get the [Internet Explorer-less] upgrade version out fast enough,” said Brooks. “It was completely unacceptable to disadvantage European customers in any way.”

This means Home Premium will initially go on sale for £80, Professional £190 and Ultimate £200.

When Microsoft is ready to release upgrade versions in Europe, those prices will rise to £150, £220 and £230 for the full software.

Free upgrade scheme

As with previous Windows releases, Microsoft will offer free Windows 7 upgrades to people who buy PCs in the run-up to the October 22 launch. Anyone who buys a PC pre-loaded with Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate from this Friday will qualify for the free upgrade, which will be managed via PC manufacturers.

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