Microsoft to Offer Vista by Download

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In a surprise move virtually on the eve of the consumer release of Microsoft’s two new flagship products, Windows Vista and Office 2007, the company has announced it will make both products available for purchase via download. Although the downloadable versions will certainly require heaps of bandwidth—and won’t save consumers any money over the price for a boxed edition—the move marks a major change for the Redmond software giant…and may indicate the faith it has in some of its anti-piracy technologies.

Microsoft will offer both Vista and Office 2007 via Windows Marketplace beginning on January 30. Customers will be able to purchase the Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista online, along with Home and Student, Standard, and Professional Editions of Office 2007. At least initially, the software will be available only in English, although 32- and 64-bit versions of the products will be available. Windows Marketplace will also offer Vista-certified products from Microsoft partners, so it might serve as a one-stop online shopping destination for folks looking to go all-Vista, all-the-time. Windows Marketplace stored purchased software and license keys, resumes downloads of they’re interrupted or fail, and manages the “overall installation process.”

Microsoft also touted its Windows Anytime Upgrade option, which enables Windows Vista users to upgrade to a more-powerful edition of the operating system with a single online transaction. The idea is that of a Home Basic user wants to upgrade to Home Premium or (of course) Ultimate, the ever-present Windows Anytime Upgrade button on the Start menu lets users select and pay for a more powerful edition of Vista. Users then get a new digital key and receive instructions on how to complete the installation from their retail Vista DVDs—which contains all the major editions of Vista, waiting to be unlocked. Suggested upgrade prices are $79 for Home Basic to Home Premium, $199 for Home Basic to Ultimate, $159 for Home Premium to Ultimate, and $139 for upgrading Business to Ultimate.

Microsoft also announced that from January 30 to June 30, 2007, it will offer a Windows Vista Family Discount to North American customers. The deal: buy a retail copy of Windows Vista Ultimate at full price, and you can buy licenses to two additional copies of Vista Home Premium for just $49.99 each. Users will need to enter a full or upgrade key for Vista Ultimate to complete their online order; once eligibility is confirmed, customers can purchase the additional licenses for Vista Home Premium.


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