Microsoft Australia announces local Windows 7 prices

Most new Windows Vista PCs will get Windows 7 upgrade at a small cost

Microsoft's new operating system,Windows 7, will cost between $199 and $469 for upgrade and full versions when it launches in Australia on October 22 this year. The software company will offer six retail versions of the Windows Vista successor, with three upgrade and three full versions.

The cheapest option, at $199, is for an upgrade version of Windows 7 Home Premium. Windows 7 Professional will also be available as an upgrade for $399. The upgrade versions of Windows 7 can be applied to computers that are already running Microsoft's Windows XP or Windows Vista operating systems.

Full versions of Windows 7 start at $299 for the Home Premium version, with the Professional version set at $449.

Microsoft offers six full versions (also known as SKUs) of Windows 7 in total with a variation of features to suit different users and computer configurations. However, only Home Premium and Professional will be available at retail stores at launch.

The Windows 7 Professional SKU will have all of Windows 7 Home Premium's features as well as a virtual Windows XP mode, an automatic backup function, and a business domain join feature.

The Ultimate SKU of Windows 7 has all the features of Home Premium and Professional, as well as a choice of 35 international system languages and a BitLocker drive encryption feature. It is important to note that Windows 7 Ultimate is not available as a retail or standalone version. If customers want to get a copy of the Windows 7 Ultimate version they must upgrade to it via the Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional editions using Microsoft's Windows Anytime Upgrade program.

Microsoft also announced its new Windows 7 Upgrade Option. Customers who purchase a PC or laptop from June 26, 2009 with Windows Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate installed, will be able to upgrade to Windows 7 at a reduced price when it is launches in October.

Microsoft has not yet announced final pricing for this offer, but has announced that eligible customers will be able to upgrade to Windows 7 at "little or no cost". Microsoft told PC World that it will set the pricing for the upgrade, rather than the PC manufacturers, although additional shipping and handling costs for the discs and materials may be incurred. The Windows 7 Upgrade Option is only available for a limited time and will conclude on 31 January, 2010.

Several PC and notebook manufacturers have already jumped on board with the Upgrade Option. HP has announced that qualifying customers who buy PCs from today will be included on the offer, and the company will publish specific details on its dedicated Windows 7 Web site when it becomes available.

Eligible customers will receive a Windows 7 upgrade when the operating system is launched on October 22, as well as an upgrade utility disk that will install any necessary drivers and help users through the process.

“Through the Windows Upgrade Option program, we can help our joint customers get new PCs now and get ready to experience the innovation and simplification that Windows 7 delivers,” said Nick Parker, general manager of worldwide sales for HP in a statement.

Lenovo Product Manager for ANZ, Lindsay Tobin has also stated that the company will offer a "royalty free" upgrade to Windows 7 for customers who buy Lenovo desktop PC or notebook with Windows Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate editions from today. Eligible customers will have to pay shipping and handling fees for the upgrade material, but will receive a full upgrade package with the new operating system, as well as any necessary software or driver updates. Customers will be able to request the upgrade from the Lenovo Windows 7 Web site from July 15, 2009.

The guaranteed Windows 7 Upgrade Option, as well as the cost of purchasing an eligible Windows Vista PC itself, can both be claimed by Australian families under the Education Tax Refund (ETR) from the Australian Federal Government. According to the Web site if you’re eligible, from 1 July 2009 you can claim the Education Tax Refund for eligible education spending from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.

A pre-order offer was also announced by Microsoft for customers in the US, Canada and Japan who wish to purchase Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional versions for a reduced price. This pre-order offer is not yet available in Australia, however, with Microsoft stating that is currently reviewing options to launch a similar offer locally.

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