Vista OEM prices finally appear

Vista OEM prices finally appear

Summary: The official Vista launch event is still a week away, but online retailers have already begun selling single OEM copies of Windows Vista. The surprising news is that consumer editions are selling for roughly the same as their XP counterparts, although business buyers may see a slight price increase. The real question is whether PC buyers will pay up for the pricier Ultimate edition.

TOPICS: Windows

Over the weekend, I got an e-mail offer from an online retailer offering to sell me an OEM copy of Windows Vista. Although the official Vista launch isn't for another week, it looks like online merchants have jumped the gun.

Along with these announcements comes a hint of what OEM pricing will look like. I checked with two e-tailers I trust and found fairly consistent pricing for so-called System Builder products. At, the Home Basic (32-bit) edition is selling for $89.90 and Business edition (also 32-bit) going for $139.90. Mwave doesn't have prices posted for Ultimate or Home Premium yet. has a full line-up of 32- and 64-bit Vista OEM editions for sale at the following prices:

These prices are good benchmarks of what new PCs will cost when they begin appearing with Vista pre-installed. Last August, I surveyed XP prices, including OEM editions, and found that XP Home was typically selling for about $90, with Media Center Edition (the predecessor of Vista Home Premium) going for around $120 and OEM XP Pro prices hovering in the $130+ range. Judging by this limited data set, prices for consumer PCs aren't changing much in the XP-to-Vista transition, but business buyers can expect to pay about $10 more per license.

The real question is whether Microsoft can convince Windows buyers to shell out the extra $80 or so for the upgrade to Ultimate edition from Home Premium when they purchase a new PC. If they can convince even 10% of PC purchasers that the upgrade is worth it, that will represent a major bump in revenue.

Last September, I called the pricing for Ultimate edition "price gouging." Now that the first wave of Ultimate Extras have been unveiled, I'm still not convinced that the premium price is fair or justified.

Topic: Windows

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  • The nice thing about offering customers choice

    is that if the premium software does turn out to be price gouging, customers will wise up to this and stick with the basic versions. At least MS isn't forcing the premium software on everybody, even those who don't need it.

    Now if $80 for the premium software gives the great customer value compared to third party offerings, and of course if that software is useful in the first place, then yes people will buy it and be glad they did.

    For the record I think those are fair prices. I doubt I will buy Vista other than for testing purposes, at least for now, but I can't accuse MS of price gouging with that price list. What I am more interested in is the OEM Office prices.
    Michael Kelly
  • These are not OEM prices

    The prices quoted are for System Builders and not named OEMs. OEM pricing is never made public and not purchased from these same channels. Named OEMs deal directly with Microsoft and receive bigger discounts.
    • System Builders are OEMs

      There are two categories of OEM software. Royalty OEMs are one, System Builders are the other. (I am a registered System Builder OEM.) Plenty of people buy computers with Windows preinstalled from System Builders. That's the whole point of the program.

      These are a reliable indicator of prices, IMO.
      Ed Bott
      • No, not really....

        These are reliable indicators of retail upgrade prices...not of OEM prices. The Royalty OEMs pay much, much less per license than these.
        • You misunderstand

          I'm pointing out that because reatail AND Sytem Builder OEM prices have essentially not changed for consumer SKUs and are up a modest $10 for Business, that it is reasonable to assume the same will be true of royalty OEMs. I don't expect PCs to cost more when Vista ships, that's the point. And I stand by that conclusion.
          Ed Bott
          • Both sides are right

            I see what the other people are saying, you have quoted these as OEM prices but people like Dell do pay a lot less.

            However with your pricing indicators showing that system builders won't be paying anymore it is a fair conclusion that the big OEM giants will be paying a similar price for Vista as they did for XP although less than what System Builders would.

            You just needed to explain yourself better. Some people are not too quick on the uptake!
      • When I buy a computer form Dell ...

        ... they do not pay MS anything close to $100 for it. How do I know that? As of a year ago, MS was charging it's own employees $35 for a copy of Windows XP Pro SP2 so I find it extremely unlikely that Dell is paying much more than that! Can it be much different for HP, or any other large OEM?
        M Wagner
        • Buy a few million copies

          I'm sure if you buy a few million copies, they'd give you a pretty good break too...
          • Millions?

            I to am a Microsoft OEM, together adding up all the OEM's they probably do buy a few million, we still pay $89 for xphome.
          • No, you are a system builder.

            if you think you get the same pricing or terms as Royalty OEMs then you are dreaming.
        • I suppose you think these are the best prices.

          The best price to pay for Xp Pro upgrade is $8 and for Vista Business upgrade $10. Do these prices legally exist? Absolutely they do. :-)
    • The only real question

      is how much the consumer will be charged for any of these versions.
  • Vista may cost you more than listed !

    Although your lists may be accurate, they may well prove to cost consumers more than double the listed price. Consider this as a fact as Microsoft has limited Vista to 2 activations. If your motherboard needs to be replaced, hard drive, graphics card upgrade or any other major component has to changed or upgraded for any reason whatsoever, you will have to reinstall Vista and / or have it reactivated. Once these 2 activations have been used up, you then have to buy another license or copy of Vista. This makes the price lists somewhat obscure, especially for gamers or anyone that upgrades their system frequently. Buyers should be made aware of this before they buy ANY version of Vista. Funny how Microsoft only points out the good things and leaves the bad left for consumers to find out on their own. If you really want to help consumers, Post this fact as I won't be able to buy any OS with this kind of limitation.
    • You may be falling for the FUD flying around out there

      Last time I checked, all other versions of Windows had "Minimun System Requirements" printed on the side of the box, so why would you asume that MS would exclude that from the side of the box Vista ships in, so the "hidden hardware upgrade info" is a non issue.

      as for the "2 activations" I just read this:

      [i]A Microsoft spokesman from the Licensing Dept told bit-tech that this would not be the case. He told us that Windows Vista will not require a system re-activation unless the hard drive and one other component is changed. This means that enthusiasts will be able to swap CPUs, memory and graphics cards out without any worry about having to re-activate with MS, either on the internet or by phone.

      Should you change the hard drive and another piece of hardware - for example for a major upgrade such as a motherboard change that requires a re-installation - Microsoft will allow you to re-activate up to 10 times. You will not, however, be able to have more than one machine activated concurrently.[/i]
      John Zern
    • Not true

      This license provision was in an early version of the retail (not OEM) license. It has since been removed completely. OEM software has always been locked to the machine on which it is first installed and cannot be transferred. My story about the license terms is here:
      Ed Bott
      • Even on XP

        If you swopped the motherboard you were required to purchase a new copy of XP (through you could get an OEM with the new motherboard).
        The only difference in licensing between XP and Vista is this will now be enforced.

        The fact is the only people this will effect will be a few geeks (enthuisasts) who have home networks over over clocked , liquid nitrogen cooled AMD PC. I know this is hard to believe but a good estimate is

        99.9% of people on these boards install operating systems
        99.9 of people in the real world do NOT.

        Vista like all Windows releases for good or bad will be new computer time
        • t was enforced on XP

          For OEM copies of XP, if you reinstall a System Builder OEM copy on a different PC than the original, you usually have to reactivate via phone. The enforcement is the same with both XP and Vista.
          Ed Bott
          • True on OEM copies

            but not on volume licensing (which was pirated in millions).

            Microsoft assume that a very high % of people will steal if they think they can get way with it and guess what they are right.

            You dont get shops letting people pay the correct amount without checking for the bread or the tv (yes i know there are a few but they are very closely monitored)
    • not necessarily true

      If Microsoft keeps their current activation scheme (same as XP), you can call the phone number listed on the activation screen and get it re-registered - you just can't electronically activate it. I had to do this when I had a series of IBM Deskstar (aka Deathstar) failures a few years ago and I'm sure plenty of OCers have needed to do the same. They asked me if I'd installed it on multiple machines or if I thought my license was pirated and I said no and explained what happened, then they told me they had re-enabled my key. Incidentally, they re-enabled it completely because not long afterward the drive got accidentally wiped (which was partially due to a bug in the installer for Microsoft Windows XP Pro that installed on the wrong disk after I changed it to a different one, so I woulda given them an earful if I had to call in again).
  • home volume license only on ultimate

    I don't think the Ultimate edition is worth the money, but looking at the requirements, my XP Pro is only upgrade-able to Ultimate (for $139), so if I do it, my hand is forced on which one I get (it's $199 for Home Basic to Ultimate and $159 from Home Premium to Ultimate). Since my hand is forced, I'll probably use Microsoft's volume licensing "deal" (scam) to upgrade my other two XP Home machines to Home Premium for $50 each (which almost offsets the cost of going to Ultimate, but only if you have 1 pro box and 2 Home edition boxes). My house is probably a bit more unusual than most, as I have 6 computers (2 windows, 1 windows/linux dual boot, 2 linux (web/build servers), and 1 mac).

    here's the "deal"
    a) buy or upgrade to a retail copy of Windows Vista Ultimate
    b) buy up to 2 copies of Windows Vista Home Premium at the special price of $49.99 each.
    offer is Jan 30 - June 30

    the problem with that deal is most people don't have a pro box lying around, and if they have 3 home boxes, they probably don't want/need Ultimate and will save a lot more by just buying 3 licenses of Home Premium.