Gartner: Free Vista Upgrade Coupons Unlikely

Gartner seems to be trying to put the brakes on the notion that Microsoft and PC makers are thinking about offering free Windows Vista upgrade coupons.
Although reports that Microsoft and PC makers will offer free Windows Vista upgrade coupons have been circulating, research firm Gartner's position is that the talk is probably bunk.

Last Friday, for instance, DigiTimes reported that Microsoft had reached an agreement with PC manufacturers to start offering upgrade coupons in October. Microsoft has refused to confirm the plan.

"Frankly, the news is leaking out way too early," Gartner analyst Michael Silver wrote on his Vista-centric blog. "Those [PC vendors] that start talking about a possible coupon deal now could be putting a damper on back-to-school sales, as buyers try to nurse their old PCs along, waiting for PCs that ship with coupons."

Silver also noted that an across-the-board coupon good for three months would be unprecedented. "[In the past] different OEMs have had different programs ranging from free upgrades to low-cost upgrades, and often only on specific models," Silver said.

He pegged the per-user cost of fulfilling such an offer at $10 minimum, which would cover media and shipping, as well as technical support. ("Upgrading an OS is not a trivial task that can be successfully done by the average consumer," Silver wrote.)

For-a-fee programs are much more likely, he concluded. "If this [$10] cost is not partially underwritten by Microsoft, OEMs will find it difficult to offer it."

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