Microsoft Windows 7 final pricing is revealed and analyzed

The pricing for Microsoft Windows 7 has been finalized. Greg Shultz takes closer look at how much it will cost you to upgrade to Windows 7.

Well, the Windows 7 pricing saga has come to an end. On Friday July 31, Microsoft tied up the loose ends by revealing the prices for the rest of its Windows 7 products — Windows Anytime Upgrade and Family Pack Pricing — on the Windows 7 Blog. Let's take a look at the details.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Windows Anytime Upgrade pricing structure

While there were four Windows Vista Windows Anytime Upgrade packages, there appears to be only three Windows 7 Windows Anytime Upgrade packages:

  • Starter to Home Premium: $79.99
  • Home Premium to Professional: $89.99
  • Home Premium to Ultimate: $139.99

Looking at the Starter to Home Premium upgrade first, chances are good that the only system on which you'll be able to purchase a copy of Windows 7 Starter is on a netbook. As such, having Windows 7 Starter on netbooks will help netbook makers keep their prices down to an acceptable level while the $80 Starter to Home Premium upgrade will provide end users an affordable upgrade path.

Chances are also good that the majority of the new PCs available in the retail channel will come with a Windows 7 Home Premium. When you look at the prices here, the cost to move from Home Premium to Professional seems like a good deal, but the move from Home Premium to Ultimate doesn't appear to be much of a deal — especially when you consider the cost difference between the full packages.

The MSRP for the full version of Professional costs $299.99, and MSRP for the full version of Home Premium costs $199.99. That's a difference of $100, so the $89.99 for the move from Home Premium to Professional is a discount.

The MSRP for the full version of Ultimate costs $319.99 and MSRP for the full version of Home Premium costs $199.99, which is a difference of $120. So at $139.99, it actually costs $19.99 more to get Ultimate via the Windows Anytime Upgrade than it would to go buy the full version of Ultimate.

Even so, you'll see that this Home Premium to Ultimate Windows Anytime Upgrade is cheaper that it was with Vista as noted in the Windows 7 Blog:

"You'll note that we've reduced the price of moving from Home Premium to Ultimate 12% in the US as compared to Vista pricing."

As I mentioned, based on the information revealed on the Windows 7 Blog, there appears to be only three Windows Anytime Upgrade packages for Windows 7. However, several other reputable sources, including Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows and Ars Technica indicate that there may be others.

  • Starter to Professional: $114.99
  • Starter to Ultimate: $164.99
  • Professional to Ultimate: $129.99

These additional packages make sense, and the prices seem to be consistent; however, I will refrain from further comment at this time.

Windows 7 Family Pack

The Windows 7 Family Pack turned out to be way cheaper than I had estimated in my last blog, "The RTM Version of Windows 7 Is Ready, but Are You Ready for It?" I had figured that, like it did with Vista, Microsoft would make you pay full price for at least one of the licenses and then give you a dramatic discount on the other two. But that is not the case with Windows 7. In fact, the whole package offers a dramatic discount. The price for the Windows 7 Family Pack, which will include three Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade licenses, is $149.99.

That breaks down to about $49.99 per license, which is the exact same price that Microsoft was charging for the Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade during the special Windows 7 preorder campaign that ran from June 26 through July 11.

Keep in mind that the Windows 7 Family Pack includes upgrade licenses and not full install licenses. This makes sense when you consider that many people who have three computers capable of running Windows 7 are already running Windows XP or Windows Vista.

The only odd thing about the Windows 7 Family Pack is that the availability is described as "...until supplies last..." which clearly indicates that this is a limited-time product. I would think that it would be better to have the Windows 7 Family Pack be a regular ongoing product and have the price change from the dramatic discount of $49.99 per license to a less dramatic discount, such as $89.99 per license, after an initial period of time.

The whole enchilada

I know that I've listed the regular package prices before, but now that we have all of them, I thought that it would be nice to have them all in one article.

  • Windows 7 Home Premium (Full): $199.99
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (Upgrade): $119.99
  • Windows 7 Professional (Full): $299.99
  • Windows 7 Professional (Upgrade): $199.99
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (Full): $319.99
  • Windows 7 Ultimate (Upgrade): $219.99

What's your take?

Now that you know the price for the Windows 7 Family Pack, are you likely to purchase that package? Have you used any of the Windows Vista Windows Anytime Upgrade packages? If so, what was your experience? As always, if you have comments or information to share about these topics, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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By Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.