Microsoft said Tuesday it will offer shoppers who buy Windows XP-based PCs between Oct. 26 and March 15 coupons for discounted or free upgrades to Vista, which is scheduled for delivery to stores and on new PCs in January. The promotion aims to give year-end PC buyers, typically consumers and small business owners, incentives to purchase PCs now, rather than wait for Vista.
"The goal of the program is to minimize any risk to holiday sales" for computer resellers and PC manufacturers, says Kevin Kutz, a director in Microsoft's Windows client division. Microsoft plans to release a version of Vista for large companies that license the software directly next month.
Under terms of the promotion, buyers of new PCs loaded with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 will receive a coupon for a free upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium. Those purchasing Windows XP Professional, Tablet PC Edition, or the 64-bit version of Windows XP Professional will receive coupons for free upgrades to Windows Vista Business 32-bit or 64-bit editions.
Buyers of PCs preloaded with less-expensive versions of Windows XP will need to pay $49 to upgrade to Windows Vista Basic, or $79 to upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium. That's half the list price for upgrading to those versions, though Microsoft will charge shipping and handling fees to mail the CD-ROMs.
Under a second part of the program, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, Lenovo, and other PC makers will offer coupons for free or discounted versions of Vista to buyers of PCs sold with Windows XP. Microsoft will also offer holiday shoppers who buy the company's Office 2003 productivity suite vouchers for upgrades to Office 2007 when that product becomes available in January.