The full version of Windows 7 Home Premium is priced at $199, with an upgrade from Vista or XP costing $119. The full version of Windows 7 Professional is $299, with upgrades going for $199. Windows 7 Ultimate is priced at $319, with the upgrade version at $219.
But U.S. shoppers who pre-order between June 26th and July 11th will receive discounts of 50% or more, Microsoft said. For instance, Windows 7 Home Premium will sell for $49 during the discount period, while Windows 7 Professional will sell for $99. Participating retailers include Best Buy and Amazon, as well as Microsoft's own online store.
A similar program will be offered in Europe from July 15th to Aug. 14th.
Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc, in a blog post Thursday, said the discounts are meant "as a way of saying thank you to our loyal Windows customers."
That may be, but Microsoft's aggressive pricing for Windows 7 shows that the company is anxious to reinvigorate flagging Windows sales. Microsoft's client unit, which houses Windows, saw sales slip 16% in the most recent quarter.
In a further effort to boost sales, Microsoft on Thursday disclosed an upgrade program through which consumers who purchase a Vista-powered PC can migrate to Windows 7 at little or no cost when the latter becomes available on Oct. 22.
Microsoft said it would defer recognition of 50% of revenue for sales made through the program until the fulfillment date of the purchases or until the program expires, based on whichever comes earliest. Microsoft said it expects to defer $200 to $300 million in such revenues during its current fiscal fourth quarter, which ends June 30.
Such upgrade programs are generally meant to convince consumers to not hold off purchasing PCs during the time period between when a new product is announced and when it's actually available.
Microsoft needs to tread carefully when it comes to upgrade programs. The company was sued last year by consumers who complained that some Windows XP PCs sold as "Vista Capable" prior to Vista's launch in January 2007 were anything but.