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Windows Vista Upgrade coupons are here, but what's with the "nominal fee"?

Windows Vista Upgrade coupons are here, but what's with the "nominal fee"?

The news circulated earlier today that Microsoft has finally unveiled the specifics behind its Windows Vista Upgrade coupons. As of October 26, the company is going to allow vendors to offer an upgrade for all new Windows XP-based desktops and laptops. The upgrade path matches certain versions of Windows XP to their Vista equivalents. XP Home will earn you Vista Basic, XP Media Center 2005 gets bumped to Vista Home Premium, and XP Pro lines up with Windows Vista Business. You get the upgrade DVD by sending in the coupon or filling out a Web form.

We like this plan, but one thing bothered us. The details on Microsoft's official Vista blog weren't specific as to what the upgrades would cost. It pointed to a "nominal fee" for each, and said that it was up to the PC manufacturers and retailers to decide the specifics of upgrade and shipping-and-handling fees. So who's going to charge, you ask? So did we. Here's what we found out from the major PC vendors, except Sony who never called us back (where were you guys?).

Alienware: Won't offer the upgrade to XP Home, but will have no charge for the other versions. It will charge for shipping.

Dell: Will charge $45 to go from XP Home to Vista Basic; all other versions will be free; shipping costs apply.

HP: All versions will be free. It will also ship a DVD of Vista driver updates with the upgrade disc (nice touch). Might charge for shipping, depending on your location.

Gateway: For online customers, all versions will be free, with no shipping-and-handling fee. A few retail customers might get hit with S/H charges. Details for professional-channel customers have yet to be worked out.

Lenovo: Going from XP Home to Vista Basic will cost an amount that has yet to be determined--on top of the shipping and handling fee. XP Pro to Vista Business will have a fee for shipping and handling only.

Sony: TBD

Velocity Micro: No charge for any of the upgrades. Shipping-and-handling charges will apply via Microsoft. Made the point that all out-of-channel vendors (read: the smaller guys) will need to point customers to Microsoft directly, hence the shipping charge. The larger vendors have the option to absorb the fee.

Windows Vista RC2