Microsoft Corp. today announced programs to provide holiday shoppers with low-cost upgrades to Windows Vista™ and the 2007 Microsoft® Office release with the purchase of a new Windows Vista Capable personal computer. Microsoft is working with participating computer manufacturers and system builders that plan to sell PCs loaded with Windows® XP or pre-installed with 2003 Microsoft Office software to make the Express Upgrade to Windows Vista and Microsoft Office Technology Guarantee programs available to consumers and small businesses from Oct. 26, 2006, through March 15, 2007.
Swell, but the problem is that the pesky details are completely variable among the big PC manufacturers:
A number of computer manufacturers worldwide have confirmed plans to participate in the Express Upgrade to Windows Vista program. PCs carrying the Windows Vista Capable logo may be eligible for the program, but upgrade offers will vary among PC makers. The upgrade to Windows Vista may be offered for free or at a discounted price (shipping and handling charges may also apply), and customers should check with PC makers for their specific offers.
Mary Jo Foley reports that a Microsoft spokesman says all the biggies are onboard. As for the smaller PC vendors:
Microsoft will be working with participating smaller PC makers, known as system builders, to provide customers with upgrade discount coupons for Windows Vista with the purchase of a qualifying Windows Vista Capable PC. The offer will vary by region, but in the U.S. upgrades from Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to Windows Vista Home Premium, and upgrades from Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and Windows XP Professional x64 Edition to Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Business 64, will be offered for a nominal fee. Upgrades from Windows XP Home Edition to Windows Vista Home Basic and to Windows Vista Home Premium will be offered at a 50 percent discount from the boxed product upgrade price, plus the cost of shipping and handling.
You buy an XP Home machine and get the opportunity to upgrade it for US$50 to Vista Home Basic which doesn’t even have the Aero GUI. Such a deal! Jupiter Research’s Joe Wilcox also takes a jaundiced look at the Vista program and finds it potentially perilous for both Microsoft and the vendors. I’ve always been dubious about how enticing an opportunity to upgrade operating systems actually is to the average consumer and wonder if we’ll ever find out how many of the coupons are ever used. We will get to find out how many PC’s get sold this holiday season, though.
Finally, by way of contrast, the Office 2007 upgrade appears to be a marvel of clarity and value:
Microsoft will also enable customers to upgrade to comparable editions of the 2007 Microsoft Office release when they purchase PCs pre-installed with qualifying Microsoft Office 2003 software. For Microsoft Office purchases made through participating computer manufacturers in qualifying locations, customers will receive upgrades to comparable 2007 Microsoft Office release products for the cost of shipping and handling when the product becomes available. For purchases of Microsoft Office through a system builder, customers will need to provide valid proof of purchase and cover shipping and handling costs associated with the upgrade. Customers in North America will receive a coupon with the purchase that must also be submitted.
Hopefully the editions truly are comparable in which case the Office upgrades would be a no-brainer.
Finally, a discussion of coupons would be incomplete without the price tag and Microsoft held a press call today to say that they expect to defer US$1.5B in sales from their fiscal 2Q to fiscal 3Q to cover the coupon tab and product-preshipment, but didn’t expect it to affect full-year results. MSFTextrememakeover provides the requisite spanking and wonders about the timing of this revelation two days before the quarterly earnings report.