Microsoft could drop the price of Windows 7 to around $100 when it announces retail prices later this month, according to calculations based on an earlier Vista cost-cutting move. Although Microsoft is not expected to go public with Windows 7 retail prices until next week, if it drops them by the same percentages it did in February 2008 when it cut U.S. prices for three editions of Vista, the upgrade to Windows 7 Home Vista could be $106.
If it does cut prices, Microsoft's motivations could range from a recognition of the recession's impact on consumers to a desire to move as many users as possible to Windows 7 -- which has been generally praised by reviewers -- to stem defections to other platforms, such as Apple's Mac OS X. In that Vista price cut, Microsoft dropped the list prices of Vista Home Premium Upgrade, Vista Ultimate and Vista Ultimate Upgrade in the U.S. by 18.8%, 20% and 15.4%, respectively.
Vista Home Premium Upgrade, which had been priced at $159, fell to $129 in February 2008. Vista Ultimate Upgrade, meanwhile, dropped from $260 to $220. In other markets, such as the U.K. and the European Union, prices fell even more: Home Premium Upgrade was slashed by 46% in the EU. Using the 2008 percentage price cuts for Ultimate as the basis for further reductions would put Windows 7 Ultimate at $256 and Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade at $186.
Those calculations, however, present problems with the pricing of Windows 7's other edition, dubbed Professional, the replacement for Vista Business in the line-up. Microsoft has been adamant that each version of Windows 7 will be a superset of the one immediately lower on the price/feature ladder. Such a strategy would hint at prices set accordingly; in other words, Business would be priced higher than Home Premium but lower than Ultimate.