Microsoft, a handful of big-name PC partners and various system builders announced on October 24 their long-awaited plans for making holiday coupons available for both Windows Vista and Office 2007.
Microsoft's goal with the program: Appease partners and customers who had been hoping to see new Vista PCs under their holiday trees, but who won't be able to, given that the Vista retail launch is January, 2007, not fall, 2006 -- the date that Microsoft had been hoping (at least prior to March 2006) to make Vista commercially available.
So who's in? "OEMs such as Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba and many others around the world are participating," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.
What's the deal? There's no one, universal discount that will be available to all consumers.
"The OEM program details will be determined by the specific OEM," the spokeswoman said. "The details of Microsoft’s arrangement with OEMs are always confidential. The system builder program includes free upgrades in some cases, and sharply discounted upgrades in other cases, plus shipping and handling costs. The upgrade offers for purchases of eligible 'Windows Vista Capable' PCs through participating system builders will be handled by Microsoft."
How much? Some PC providers are charging a "nominal fee" for individuals buying new PCs this holiday season. What does that mean? That's way too complex to answer in a sentence or two. The Windows Vista Team blog explains more of the holiday-coupon particulars in relatively few words. And the Microsoft Express Update site offers additional specifics.
How long does the coupon program last? October 26, 2006 through March 15, 2007.