For two weeks starting Friday, Microsoft will pre-sell Windows 7 upgrades for as little as $50.
"As a way of saying thanks to our loyal Windows customers, we are excited to introduce a special limited time offer," Microsoft spokesman Brandon LeBlanc said in an entry to a company blog early Thursday.
[ Microsoft also will launch its Windows 7 free upgrade program for buyers of Vista PCs. | Preparing for Windows 7? Get the overview you need in the Windows 7 PDF Report from InfoWorld's J. Peter Bruzzese. | Can your PCs run Windows 7? Find out with the compatibility checker in InfoWorld's free Windows Sentinel monitoring tool. ]
Microsoft offered a similar deal prior to the launch of Windows Vista three years ago.
Those figures represent a reduction of between 50 percent and 58 percent from the standard list prices for the upgrade editions of Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional. Orders can be placed with participating retailers, such as Best Buy and Amazon.com, or at Microsoft's own online store.
The pre-order discount prices are valid from June 26 through July 11 in the U.S. and Canada, but end July 5 in Japan. Customers in the U.K., France and Germany will be offered similar pre-order discounts starting July 15, said LeBlanc.
Microsoft's pre-order discount was not a surprise. Several weeks ago, a leaked memo from retailer Best Buy had disclosed the limited-time pricing plan.
Microsoft also revealed list prices for Windows 7 today, cutting the price of only one of the three retail editions, even though consumers face tough economic times.
"We are reducing the [list] price of our most popular retail product for customers, the Home Premium Upgrade, by approximately 10 percent, depending on the market," said LeBlanc. Those prices will be in effect Oct. 22, when retailers start selling the new operating system, and computer makers begin selling Windows 7-equipped PCs. In the U.S., the company dropped the upgrade price of Windows Home Premium to $119.99, an 8 percent drop from the $129.99 of Vista Home Premium. The full version of Windows 7 Home Premium will cost $199.99, a 17 percent price cut from Vista's $239.99.
"It's a positive sign that they're slightly willing to give on pricing, and recognizing the state of the economy," said Richard Shim, an analyst with research firm IDC. "But the environment has also gotten a lot more competitive, what with Apple and Snow Leopard."
Earlier this month, Apple announced that it would charge just $29 for Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, when it releases the performance and stability upgrade in September.
Prices for Windows 7 Professional -- the replacement for Vista Business -- and Windows 7 Ultimate, however, will remain the same as the corresponding Vista editions: $199.99 and $299.99 for the upgrade and full versions of Professional, $219.99 and $319.99 for the upgrade and full versions of Ultimate.