Free Vista coupon expected in Australia

Local builders have confirmed foreign reports that Microsoft is on the verge of announcing a free Windows Vista upgrade plan for Windows XP-based PCs sold between this month and March 2007.

Expected to be called the Express Upgrade program, the coupon would apply to PCs shipping Windows XP Professional and Windows Media Center only, industry sources said under condition of anonymity.

"XP Home users miss out on the program, but it's no big deal because, in our experience, the home users aren't concerned about upgrades to new operating systems anyway," one source claimed.

Microsoft Australia has yet to finalise how the upgrades would be offered, but was examining either a coupon or a website-based program, sources said. Builders could know as early as next week how the plan would be delivered. The software giant's last upgrade offer was delivered via a note inserted into the OEM [Windows XP] product.

Local sources indicated their belief that the upgrade to Vista would be free, aside from a shipping fee. This contradicts foreign reports the upgrades could cost a small fee in their own right, currently tipped to be between $US49 and $U79.

Director of Windows Client Business Group at Microsoft Australia, Jeff Putt, confirmed it was talking to all partners about an offer, but decline to provide further information.

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