Another Microsoft stumble - Vista coupons

Another Microsoft stumble - Vista coupons

Summary: With the Vista launch now only a few months away I can't help but think back to the Windows 95 launch. It might be my memory playing tricks on me but things were a lot different back then. Microsoft played the media like a concert violinist and it paid off handsomely. I guess they didn't have bloggers to deal with. Over a decade later and Microsoft is making a total mess of the Vista launch and the company is stumbling from one crisis to another.

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TOPICS: Windows
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With the Vista launch now only a few months away I can't help but think back to the Windows 95 launch.  It might be my memory playing tricks on me but things were a lot different back then.  Microsoft played the media like a concert violinist and it paid off handsomely.  I guess they didn't have bloggers to deal with.  Over a decade later and Microsoft is making a total mess of the Vista launch and the company is stumbling from one crisis to another. 

Starting today, users who purchase a Windows XP-powered PC may or may not get a Windows Vista Express Upgrade coupon.  This coupon, if they are lucky enough to get one, may entitle them to a free upgrade to Vista or offer a discounted upgrade.  You may or may not have to pay shipping and handling fees. 

Welcome to the latest Vista stumble by Microsoft - a complicated vendor-controlled voucher scheme that's far too confusing for the buyer.

[poll id=6]

The idea is simple.  You buy a qualifying PC and you get a voucher.  You redeem that voucher for a copy of Vista and you install the operating system Welcome to the latest Vista stumble by Microsoft - a complicated vendor-controlled voucher scheme that's far too confusing for the buyer over Windows XP.  The classic "buy now, upgrade later" designed to keep consumers and vendors sweet. But Microsoft has taken what should be relatively easy and made it far too complicated by handing too much control over to the PC vendors (a list which includes Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba ...). 

First, there's an issue of what is a qualifying PC.  You'd think that step would be simple enough - any PC sold with Windows XP between the qualifying period (October 26, 2006 and March 15, 2007) would be eligible for upgrade. 

Wrong. 

Only some PCs will qualify.  Why?  Dunno.  I'm guessing that the support is a key point.  Vendors don't want to be compelled to offer support for the cheaper lines, so you only get onto the Vista Express train.

The next hurdle is the price of the upgrade.  The phrase that's being used by both Microsoft and vendors is "nominal fee", but even the official Microsoft Express Upgrade website is vague about price:

Price, terms, and conditions may vary. Additional shipping, handling, and other fees may apply. See your PC manufacturer for availability and applicable offer details.

So, what version of Vista does the upgrader end up with?  The answer, as you might expect, is that it depends.  The published upgrade path is as follows:

  • Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 -> Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Windows XP Professional -> Windows Vista Business
  • Windows XP Tablet PC Edition -> Windows Vista Business
  • Windows XP Professional x64 Edition -> Windows Vista Business 64

These upgrades come under the banner of "nominal fee".  But it doesn't end there.  the Express Upgrade coupon also entitles the bearer to 50% discounts of the following upgrades:

  • Windows XP Home Edition -> Windows Vista Home Basic
  • Windows XP Home Edition -> Windows Vista Home Premium

Notice no discounted upgrade path to Windows Vista Ultimate.  Odd that.

One element that can't be factored in to a coupon-based upgrade like this is how willing the average user will be to install an operating system.  Vista's pretty easy to install on a bare PC and it's also quite straight-forward to reinstall it onto an existing Vista PC, but going down the XP to Vista road can be bumpy, especially on systems that have poor drivers installed or incompatible security software.  Users could find themselves having to tinker a lot more than they are used to in order to get things working.

Breaking news and buying advice --> 

Breaking News

Dell
Some details are starting to emerge as to pricing - Dell plans to charge $45 (plus shipping and handling) to upgrade from Windows XP Home to Vista Basic while upgrading from Windows XP Media Center Edition to Vista Premium and from Windows XP Pro to Vista Premium will only mean paying for shipping and handling. 
Dell have also confirmed that there will not be any proof-of-purchase requirements.
Customers will also get a DVD outlining the upgrade process, step-by-step.

Hewlett-Packard
HP Pavilion or Compaq Presario desktop and notebook PC, and HP Digital Entertainment Center, with a qualifying Windows XP operating system bought after Oct. 26th will be eligible for a free upgrade to Vista.  The upgrade paths are as follows:
XP Home > Vista Home Basic
XP Media Center Edition 2005 > Vista Home Premium
XP Pro > Vista Business

Gateway
All eMachines and Gateway PCs bought on or after Oct 26th will be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows Vista.  The upgrade paths are as follows:
XP Home > Vista Home Basic
XP Media Center Edition 2005 > Vista Home Premium
XP Pro and Tablet > Vista Business

Buying Advice

Time for some simple buying advice.

  • Know what you are getting in advance.  Don't assume that you will get an upgrade coupon with every PC
  • Find out what the "nominal fees" are upfront.
  • Consider whether, based on your technical expertise, you'd be better off waiting for Vista to launch and buy a PC with it already installed.

The Windows Vista Express Upgrade program runs until March 15, 2007.

Topic: Windows

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55 comments
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  • You are WAY off base.

    MS is doing the hardwae vendors a favor, it makes NO DIFFERENCE to Microsoft if they sell XP or Vista on an OEM machine, they both bring in the same dollars.

    Futher, what possible difference would it make to MS if you bought Windows today or in three months?
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Ummm ...

      I don't understand where we differ ... The article looks at the coupons from the perspective of the buyer.

      "MS is doing the hardwae vendors a favor"
      Yep, this is all to please vendors

      "it makes NO DIFFERENCE to Microsoft if they sell XP or Vista on an OEM machine"
      True, but every copy of Vista that it can "pre-sell" makes the numbers seem better.

      "they both bring in the same dollars"
      Yep. Well, maybe not. Changes in the EULA could mean more cash.

      "Futher, what possible difference would it make to MS if you bought Windows today or in three months?"
      Simple - in three months you'll be buying Vista. No one cares about XP numbers any more. It's all about Vista.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • I think you are way off base

        "it makes NO DIFFERENCE to Microsoft if they sell XP or Vista on an OEM machine"
        True, but every copy of Vista that it can "pre-sell" makes the numbers seem better.

        Seem better to who? And, why does it matter at all to the bean counters and MS?

        "Futher, what possible difference would it make to MS if you bought Windows today or in three months?"
        Simple - in three months you'll be buying Vista. No one cares about XP numbers any more. It's all about Vista.

        Naw, the only "numbers" that matter are the ones about dollars.

        Look, the only thing that is happening here is MS is tryig to help prop up hardware sales over the holidays. Myself I think it's a rather useless effort, people that are going to buy a PC over the holidays will go ahead and buy regardless of what version of Windows is installed. Being able to upgrade to Vista down the road for free or minimal cost is not going to be the deciding factor. Sure it's a nice "perk" to the buyer, but it' not the reason they buy or don't buy a PC.
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • In that case ...

          Why didn't Microsoft jsut squeeze out SP3 for XP and not bother with Vista for a few years? XP's getting old. The bean counters might not case, but investors do.
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        • The problem is, it is Microsofts fault that there will be an extra

          installation by the customer which will be VERY expensive in terms of technical support as this is a new OS. And, Microsoft should accept the responsibility for the delays, and the ripped features, and stand up like a man and pay for the mess they created. In other words, give a free upgrade to the appropriate version of Vista, and pay the installation technical support.

          Microsoft should use some of those billions in the bank to pay for their screw ups and keep customers happy. They are just trying to weasle out of their responsibilities. VERY unprofesional.
          DonnieBoy
          • Does the Consumer even Care??

            I read this article and to be honest, the consumer could care less and its shown over the years. If a consumer wants to buy a PC they are not going to NOT buy it cause it does not come with a coupon. This is just another FUD article. I keep hearing people talk about MS like MS if forcing people do so things. Umm...we live in America, the land of the free. Free your self of MS issues and switch to Linux or some other OS if you are unhappy. All this bickering and complaining is all useless. MS does not read these comments and the average consumer does not care. Consumers spent 1.8 Trillion dollars in 2005. If you seriously thing MS is putting a lot of deep deep thought in this coupon issue, you are misled. We complain about what MS is/should be doing like they really care about out opinion; they don't - and that does not bother me. I say to MS "do your thang". Bang out a good product and I'll give it a whirl. If there are some issues, we'll work through them together. But this expectation that MS is God and should do everything perfectly (and to MY specifications) is just an ego trip. Write about some real issues that consumers really are interested in. This is a non-issue.
            andrej770
        • Stockholders care

          ---Seem better to who? And, why does it matter at all to the bean counters and MS?---

          Which is better for MS' stock price, if the company sells 10 copies of Vista the first month after it comes out, or if it sells 11 quadrillion copies in that month and all the newspapers and tech magazines declare it a smashing success? Yes, it's just PR, but PR has a big effect on Wall Street.
          tic swayback
        • Maybe Not So

          "Being able to upgrade to Vista down the road for free or minimal cost is not going to be the deciding factor."

          I presently have 3 customers ready to buy new PC's but are holding off until the purchase will include Vista. One of them bought a "Vista Ready"HP on Monday, 10/23. When the Vista announcment was made Thursday the customer contacted the selling vendor for an upgrade coupon. No Can Do this national vendor said. "We do not have any information yet if or which PC's will be eligible. My customer returned his purchase and will only repurchase when he is sure the new box will include Vista OS or a Vista coupon.
          paule4@...
        • As Usual, Lost In The Fog

          And can't see the mirrors.
          Ole Man
    • It makes quite a difference....

      .... because Vista gives the DRM, WGA and EULA lock-in that XP lacks.
      bportlock
    • Anytime they do a hardware vendor a favor

      they do themselves a favor. It's true MS gets the same $$$ per machine sold, but if more machines are sold, they get more $$$.

      Some people are suckers for two-fers. I'll admit I'm one. Years back I intentionally waited for the Win98 coupon phase before buying my first PC, because I was familiar with Win95 and knew I could work with it, but I also wanted to have the newest OS and was not shy about installing it myself. Of course I had to fall back to Win95 several times due to Win98 driver issues (that's normal with a new OS), but in the end I had two fully functional operating systems (though buggy compared to today's standards) for the price of one.
      Michael Kelly
  • Vista OEM delivery delayed anyway

    You won't get no stinking coupons if the OEM's can't get the Vista image anyway.

    http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/10/25/HNmsvistabug_1.html

    [b]Allen said the Vista team discovered the bug, which "would totally crash the system, requiring a complete reinstall," in Vista Build 5824 on Friday, Oct. 13. The team fixed the bug a week later in Vista Build 5840, he said, but it delayed the delivery of the OS to PC makers.[/b]

    If OEM's get the image the first week of Nov., it's going to be tough to get the machines on the shelves for the Xmas season. Unless they want to ship their machines with a minimal amount of testing...which wouldn't surprise me one bit.

    But, hey, you'll get a nice Vista Ready sticker and a coupon. ROFL!

    Spin, No_Ax, spin. Come on, this is what the PR department is paying you for! SPIN! ROFL!
    Chad_z
    • OEMs can't ship Vista before Xmas

      "If OEM's get the image the first week of Nov., it's going to be tough to get the machines on the shelves for the Xmas season."
      That won't happen. OEms won't release Vista until the launch date.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • There was never any intention to ship ...

      ... Vista loaded machines until January. It would seem you don't have a clue.
      ShadeTree
      • Well, I think there was ...

        Until about March this year.
        Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
        • Not the point.

          I agree that the date has slipped but the poster I was responding to made it sound like this was a recent development. As to your article about coupons it is no different this time then when XP launched.
          ShadeTree
          • Yeah ..

            My comment was tongue in cheek :-)
            Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Excuse me, but...

      If the vendors were planning to have a Vista image to install on the hard drive, why would they need a coupon?
      3D0G
  • Stumble? Explain!

    Let's see, why would the voucher be for certain PCs? Hmm, maybe because the cheaper machines that everyone buys doesn't have the guts for the aero glass interface? Maybe because they have a minimum hardware spec for good performance?

    This is so typical of ZDnet. Turn something that is good for consumers and just spin that baby into how Microsoft is faultering. In fact, I'm very surprised that it wasn't spun so bad to say that Microsoft's faultering with Vista will make everyone turn to OpenSource Linux!! Come on guys, perfect opportunity!!! Anything negative about Microsoft is a HUGE win for Linux, no?
    MicroNix
    • Your bias is showing ...

      Seriously, it is.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes