Petition demands Vista price cuts in UK

Consumers turn to the government to complain about the much higher price charged for Vista in the UK compared to the US

As businesses and consumers grapple with Microsoft's new operating system, Windows Vista, one question is increasingly being asked. Why is it so much more expensive to buy Vista in the UK than the US?

Anger over the issue has prompted an e-petition on a government website that acts as a forum for public petitions. In less than a day it had collected over 1,000 signatures with a regular stream of people signing up throughout Friday morning.

The petition is posted on the 10 Downing Street section of the government site and will be sent to the prime minister's office after it closes on 20 April. It calls on Tony Blair to put pressure on Microsoft, "to stop them overcharging the UK for its Vista operating system".

It points out the "huge difference in the price that people in the US and the UK are paying for Windows Vista", claiming that Vista Ultimate (the premium version) costs £350 in the UK but can be bought for £150 ($298) in the US.

It's not clear where these figures come from, as retail prices vary. For example, according to the recommended retail prices on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, Vista Ultimate is pegged at $399.99 (£203) in America, and £369.99 in the UK.

For the purposes of the petition, the organisers have picked on the most extreme difference in price between Vista in the UK and in the US. Generally, many versions of Vista, which comes in multiple flavours, are nearly twice as expensive in the UK as they are in the US. But Vista Home Basic, the version for people who qualify for an upgrade to Vista, costs £99 in the UK and $159 (£81) in the US — a UK premium of almost 20 percent.

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