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Wednesday, August 30, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Amazon orders for Vista start at $199

Seattle Times technology reporter

The next generation of Microsoft's flagship product will be available on schedule and cost about as much as versions it's replacing, according to information from online retailer Amazon.com.

But Microsoft said it's "too premature to comment" on final pricing or availability of the Windows Vista operating system.

The basic version of Vista for home users is available for pre-order from Amazon at $199 ($99 for the upgrade version). Its predecessor, Windows XP Home Edition, was selling for $10 less.

Vista and another huge Microsoft product, Office 2007, will be released Jan. 30, Amazon's listings say.

That would meet Microsoft's schedule for release of the operating system to consumers in January and clear up speculation over whether the two products would be launched simultaneously. Release dates for both products have been repeatedly postponed.

Microsoft did not confirm the schedule suggested by Amazon.

"We are not providing specific guidance on the availability date for Windows Vista yet," said Kevin Kutz, director of Windows Client. "... [T]he exact delivery date will be subject to achieving quality metrics based on customer feedback."

Windows Vista


Prices for four versions, as listed on Amazon.com

Business new, $299; upgrade from Windows XP, $199.

Home Basic new, $199; upgrade, $99.95.

Home Premium new, $239; upgrade, $159.

Ultimate new, $399; upgrade, $259.

Source: Amazon.com

He said Microsoft would announce official prices for Vista when it ships "release candidate one" — a near complete version of the software — later this quarter.

Amazon said it worked with Microsoft to set its prices for Vista and Office 2007.

"We base prices on what we worked out with manufacturers, whether it's books, toys, apparel, software or anything else," said Craig Berman, an Amazon spokesman.

Amazon lists prices of various "upgrade licenses" for XP owners who want to move up to Vista. Many analysts are expecting Microsoft to get a revenue boost from such upgrades.

In what could be a move to cut down on software piracy, Microsoft appears to be offering "additional" licenses, at a discount, for people who would buy a separate copy of the software for each computer in the home, for example.

Versions of Vista with more bells and whistles — and no clear predecessors in five-year-old XP — were priced higher than at least one Wall Street analyst had expected. Vista Ultimate, for example, is listed on Amazon at $399.

"The pricing of higher-end versions, which we believe will be more popular than the lower-end versions, may be more significant and longer lasting than the incremental upgrade revenues that have been of greatest focus by analysts," wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Rick Sherlund to investors.

Microsoft shares closed down 11 cents to $25.84 Tuesday.

Benjamin J. Romano: 206-464-2149 or bromano@seattletimes.com

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