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Gartner Dubious About Vista Coupons

Gartner to Microsoft: Coupons for discounted or free copies of Windows Vista won't help fourth-quarter PC sales.
Coupons for discounted or free copies of Windows Vista won't help fourth-quarter PC sales, research firm Gartner said Wednesday.

According to sources close to Microsoft, the Redmond Wash. developer will toss a coupon into each Windows XP- or Tablet PC-equipped computer bought between October 26, 2006 and March 15, 2007 for a free or discounted upgrade to Windows Vista.

Gartner is skeptical of the coupon's ability to move PCs because of the upgrade prices most buyers will face. Under the "Express Upgrade" program, people who buy a PC pre-installed with Windows XP Home, the most popular SKU, must pay $49 to receive Vista Home Basic, $79 to upgrade to Vista Home Premium.

"Most consumers will not be able to upgrade their PCs themselves and will have to pay a retailer or a reseller to do that," said Annette Jump, a principal research analyst at Gartner in an online note. Users who wait a until after the first of the year will, if Microsoft makes its stated schedule, receive Vista already on the system.

"Based on the costs, it is doubtful whether the Express Upgrade program will be able to drive consumer PC sales this holiday season," Jump added.

Microsoft has repeatedly said it is on schedule to deliver Vista to enterprise customers next month, and to retail in January.

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