A Kinder, Gentler Microsoft?

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Microsoft’s pricing on Windows 7 and the upcoming release of Microsoft Security Essentials, free anti-virus software, look like very good deals for consumers.

Testing by AVTest.org of Microsoft’s anti-virus software indicated that it performed better than a lot of the pay anti-virus products for viruses, worms and trojans. Look for disparaging comments from the pay crowd and most likely some additional “independent” testing, but it does seem like Microsoft is owning up to its responsibility to clean up after its OS. There’s a very good overview of this testing HERE.

Frankly it does not surprise me that it does so well – who else would know where the vulnerabilities lie than the company that developed the software? In addition Microsoft can throw a lot of resources at this issue and learned from previous attempts.

Overall this looks like a win for consumers.

One issue that generated a lot of speculation was pricing for Windows 7. Speculation is over now that Microsoft released pricing details.

The “good” news is that prices will be about the same as current Vista pricing, with the exception that the Home Premium retail version will be $40 cheaper than current Vista pricing – Windows 7 Home Premium will sell for $200. The upgrade version will be $10 cheaper at $120. Other versions will sell at the same prices as current Vista pricing, with retail version of Business (called Pro) at $300 and Ultimate at $320 and the upgrade versions at $200 and $220 respectively.

XP users can choose the upgrade version to keep costs down.

However the good news is that for a limited time – June 26 to July 11 – you can buy a pre-order upgrade versions of Windows 7 Home Premium for $50 and Windows 7 Pro for $100. This is very aggressive pricing for Microsoft and a good deal for anyone considering a move to Windows 7. Considering that XP users are proving to be a very loyal group (resisting a move to Vista), this appears to be an enticing incentive aimed at the XP crowd.

It may be limited so get on board early if this is the way you’re going.

Overall I think Microsoft is making the right moves on pricing by not jacking up prices above Vista’s current pricing. Street prices will be lower as OEM versions leak through the distribution channel, so I would expect to see some discounts over time. I found the best source to be my local computer show with very aggressive pricing.

Users must still decide if dumping XP is worth it – keeping XP going for the next few years is a definite option, and many users might opt to delay converting until XP support terminates completely. Let’s face it – Windows 7 is a nice OS as far as it goes but for the basics XP is still viable. This is less of a consumer win with the exception of the pre-order deal, but at least Microsoft is not upping prices.

Personally, free is still better although in a Windows world, free will involve some sacrifices (no Linux iTunes, for example).

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