Some Vista users say they're getting the Ultimate shaft

Buyers of the priciest version of Windows Vista are miffed that Microsoft's initial upgrade discounts don't help them move to Windows 7.

Microsoft promised that by purchasing the pricey Ultimate edition of Vista users would get all kinds of extras.

However, for many, those extras turned out to be little more than a few screensavers and a poker game , prompting some significant grousing.

Now, that frustration has turned to anger after Microsoft offered its pre-order program for Windows 7. Through July 11, Microsoft is offering a steep discount for those moving to cheaper versions of Windows 7, but nothing for those who want to stay on Ultimate. Under the terms of Microsoft's discount pre-order program , users can buy an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional at roughly half the list price, but the Ultimate version is offered at the full $219 price.

Among the versions of Windows Vista Ultimate that Microsoft sold was this limited-edition package signed by Bill Gates. Amazon.com

John Dabarno, a purchaser from Montreal, said that Microsoft is alienating exactly the wrong crowd. Dabarno notes that he is the person that friends and family turn to for computer advice. Indeed he has already pre-ordered Windows 7 copies to update his wife's desktop and laptop, but feels stuck on what to do with his Vista Ultimate machine.

"It would just be nice to have someone like Microsoft to say we know we did you wrong, here is a freebie on us, or let the Vista Ultimate users get some type of heavily discounted price on it," Dabarno said. "I think they would gain a lot of respect from all of their users with an offering like this, after Vista."

Lindsey Mundy, a corporate IT pro in Denver said that, as a consumer, she was particularly irked by Microsoft's actions with regard to Vista Ultimate.

"Vista Ultimate owners have already been ripped off once in paying for basically worthless 'Extras,'" she said. Now to rub salt in the wound, MS is leaving them out...for some reason best only known to them, when offering a reasonable upgrade price for Windows 7."

Some are taking the attitude of "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" and going with the pre-order and just downgrading to Windows 7 Pro or Home Premium. That's doable, but those who go that route will need to do a clean installation of their operating system--a process that involves backing up data and then reinstalling applications.

Among those leaning that way is Steven Wilczynski of Chicago.

"When I bought my PC about 18 months ago it came with a free upgrade to Vista Ultimate," he said in an e-mail. "I don't think it would be worthwhile to spend $219 in October to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate."

Others are still trying to figure out what to do.

"I have two copies of Vista Ultimate and I certainly do not want to do a clean install of (Windows) 7 Professional or pay the full price for 7 Ultimate," said Richard Wilbur, who works in clinical research in Clearwater, Fla., and notes he has been loyal to Microsoft since the days of MS-DOS. "They should be giving us the upgrade free considering the broken promises surrounding Vista Ultimate."

For its part, Microsoft isn't being too helpful. While the company hasn't announced any discounts for Vista Ultimate owners, it's not ruling them out either. But users have only until July 11 to take advantage of Microsoft's pre-order discount on Windows 7 Professional or Home Premium.

"This is the first of the offers and there will be more to come, but we can't get into specifics on any of that yet," a Microsoft representative told CNET News.

 

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