Since I've found out I really enjoy making tables and charts, I figured I present the pricing information in a nice and clear table. It shows the prices of Vista during launch, Vista prices after the price cut, and Windows 7's estimated retail prices. These are US prices, as the blog post announcing the prices did not have European prices ready.
Us Europeans are in for a serious treat, thanks to the Internet Explorer 8 thing. As we all know by now, Windows 7 will ship without Internet Explorer 8 in Europe, but apparently, this was a bit of a last-minute decision; Microsoft has not been able to test the upgrade procedure from Windows Vista to the new IE-less Windows 7. To ensure a simultaneous worldwide launch, Microsoft therefore decided to not ship any Windows 7 upgrade copies in Europe, instead offering the full retail versions at upgrade pricing.
Microsoft also confirmed the information leaked recently in the Best Buy memo, which stated that for a limited time, you can pre-order Windows 7 upgrade copies with discounts of over 50%, in select markets. The following table summarises the pricing and dates for this program (note that that European customers will get the full retail versions under this program, as explained above).
The Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program will also kick off tomorrow, June 26, and will run until the launch date of Windows 7. Under this program, anyone who buys a computer with an OEM copy of Windows Vista will receive a free Windows 7 upgrade once it's released.
These prices are all quite hefty, obviously, but it's important to note that they are actually of little relevance. Less than 5% of Windows licenses are sold at retail, meaning most people will get a new copy when they purchase a new PC. You can also order OEM copies yourself, and these are considerably cheaper than normal retail versions. For instance, while the full retail copy of Windows Vista Home Premium comes in at 199 EUR here in The Netherlands, the equivalent OEM copy goes for 99 EUR.
Microsoft actually addressed the price comparison between Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard as well. "Even their chief software architect called (Snow Leopard) an upgrade of Leopard," Corporate Vice President Brad Brooks said, "The way I look at it, it's a service pack and we don't charge for service packs."
Direct words, but you can bet your sweet bum that Apple is going to take advantage of this, fair or no.