It's official: Windows 7 is due October 22, and will cost you at least $120 to upgrade from a Vista or XP machine. Microsoft just released its price list, which is sure to be a disappointment for some, due to the high cost. Luckily, a limited number of pre-orders will cost much less.
The lowest price for a cheap upgrade, if you're lucky enough to nab one of the strictly limited pre-order slots, is just $49. That gets you Windows 7 Home Premium, and $99 will get you the Professional edition. If you miss out on this deal, which starts tomorrow, then come October 22 you're going to have to pay $199.99 to upgrade to Home Premium from Vista or XP, and $199.99 to get the Professional software. The top end version, Windows 7 Ultimate, will cost you a cool $219.99. Of course, those are for upgrade prices, and if you buy a PC you'll most likely get Win 7 on it, and maybe as a free upgrade if you buy between now and October.
But if you're not upgrading from XP or Vista, and you're buying the OS directly from a shop shelf, it'll cost you $199.99, $299.99 and a whopping $319.99 for the Home, Pro, and Ultimate respectively. That's expensive, and it looks like Microsoft hasn't learned much from the Vista debacle, figuring people will pay top prices for its products anyway. Wouldn't a $99 starting price have been a much better PR move? Instead the Win 7 prices pretty much match what Microsoft currently charges for Vista.
The Vista comparisons continue with the first images of the Windows 7 boxes. Don't they look horribly familiar? Microsoft says it's worked to reduce the packaging, presumably in an attempt to make Win 7 sound eco-friendly, but that box still contains way too much dead space and plastic.
Though Windows 7 has garnered a lot of good press for its many improvements, it's hard to see today's news in a positive light. Meanwhile Apple's news that it's upcoming OS refresh, OS X Snow Leopard, is due around the same time and will cost users just $29 for an upgrade is somewhat refreshing.