Microsoft Canada leaks Vista pricing

The software maker's Canadian Web site briefly posts prices for Windows Vista's many editions. Screenshots: Amazon selling Vista

Microsoft on Monday briefly posted pricing for Windows Vista on its Canadian Web site, giving an eye into what the company will charge for the new operating system.

The posting indicates that the Home Basic edition of Windows Vista will be priced the same as Windows XP Home, at $233 ($259 Canadian). The Home Premium version, which includes support for Media Center and tablet PC abilities will sell for 13 percent higher rate, a price that translates to about $269 in American dollars.

pricing chart

Microsoft quickly removed the price information, but blogger Ed Bott, who spotted the price list earlier Monday, included the price list in a ZDNet posting. Bott cautioned that those trying to figure out U.S. pricing would be better off comparing the Canadian Vista prices to their XP counterparts than to try and just convert to U.S. dollars.

A Microsoft representative said the company "inadvertently posted Windows Vista Canadian retail prices" on its Web site but said it has removed the posting and is not ready to share U.S. pricing information. The company said it would announce those prices when it ships the "Release Candidate 1" test version, due out by September.

On the business side, Microsoft listed Windows Vista Business at a price that equates to $341 in U.S. currency, 7 percent less than what Microsoft charges in Canada for Windows XP Professional.

The company is still wrapping up development work on the oft-delayed Windows update, which will come more than five years after its predecessor, Windows XP. After issuing the near-final release candidate next month, the company hopes to finalize the code in November in time for a mainstream launch in January.

Vista versions chart

Microsoft has yet to announce publicly its pricing plans but has said they will be generally similar to Windows XP prices, with a higher tag planned for Windows Vista Ultimate, a new high-end version that combines advanced media features with business-oriented features.

"We don't expect significant changes in our pricing strategy," Windows unit head Kevin Johnson said at a July meeting with financial analysts. "However, Vista Ultimate is a new (product), and we will sell that at a modest premium to today's offerings."

The information that was posted on Microsoft's Canadian Web site suggests that the premium will be hefty indeed, with that version priced at $449, again translated into U.S. dollars.

"The thing about list prices for full versions is that no one pays them, anyway," Gartner analyst Michael Silver said. "Most people will get Vista as part of a new PC, and the price will be buried in with the cost of the hardware."

And those that are upgrading their existing PCs pay the lower upgrade prices, Silver said.

On the upgrade front, a Vista Ultimate upgrade is priced somewhat above today's cost for upgrading to XP Professional. Windows Vista Business, meanwhile, is priced slightly below the XP Pro upgrade price. The upgrade to Windows Vista Basic is priced at the same rate as that for XP Home Edition, while Vista Home Premium is priced 54 percent higher than the basic edition.

The software maker announced in February that it plans to sell six versions of Windows Vista, including Vista Starter, which will be sold only on new PCs in emerging markets.

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