The Microsoft Rip-off Report: Pay and Pay Again

June 25th, 2009

Well, the pricing for buying Windows 7 has been officially announced, in case anyone cares. Understand that Apple has already informed users of Mac OS X Leopard that they can upgrade to Snow Leopard for a mere $29. Since most of the Intel-based Mac user base is using 10.5, you can regard that as, essentially, the main upgrade package.

For those still using Tiger, you are forced to buy Snow Leopard in a bundle that includes iLife ’09 and iWork ’09, but the increase in price above buying those two application suites separately is actually a mere $11. Such a deal!

Add to this the fact that Microsoft has been busy attacking Apple with this ubiquitous Laptop Hunter ads, both online and on TV, in which a fake buyer picks a PC over a Mac because it’s cheaper.  Now you regular readers know that I find those spots to be obnoxious and boring, and their deceit over selecting models that don’t fulfill the would-be purchaser’s stated needs is just overwhelming. Indeed, now that Apple has reduced the price of most of its note-books, other than the basic white MacBook, the insinuation of higher prices for Macs is even more misleading.

Surprisingly, I haven’t seen any changes in those spots (though I suppose they could be in the works), but we do know the upgrade tax for Windows 7 now, and it ain’t cheap, regardless of which version you select.

A Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade, for example, weighs in at $119.99 and it’s $199.99 if you choose the standard retail product. However, many Windows users simply buy new PCs, or, if they want to upgrade, they will opt for an OEM version, the same edition that is sold to manufacturers, for a lot less money.

However, Apple plays in a different league. There is no feature-limited version of Mac OS X. You get one size fits all, with every single feature present and accounted for. Thus the real equivalent product to Snow Leopard is actually Windows 7 Ultimate, for which the upgrade price is $219.99 and the full version is $319.99. Ouch!

In the European Union, where Microsoft faces an edict about excluding third-party browsers, they will evidently offer only retail packages and not upgrade versions for the time being, until things sort themselves out. Serves them right, I suppose.

To be sure, Microsoft’s price policies and alternatives are nothing if not complicated. So if you preorder Windows 7 after June 26th, and until July 11th in the U.S. and Canada, you can get the Home Premium version for $49.99 and the Professional edition (which sits between Home Premium and Ultimate) for a “mere” $99.99. I don’t have the space or patience to list the pricing in other countries.

So we really should be talking about the Microsoft Tax here.

Now please don’t consider this an all-out attack on Windows 7. It’s not fair to review a product before it’s actually released. In fact, the folks who have evaluated the prerelease editions say it’s faster and far more reliable than Vista, although it shares the same core structure. Maybe it won’t come close to Snow Leopard, but a better Windows will help egg on Apple to excel as well, and that’s a very good thing. Besides, since a large number of businesses do depend on Windows, you really want them to run efficiently and reliably. The next time you wait on the phone for long minutes because of a computer crash, you’ll know what I mean.

In any case, this whole strategy once again demonstrates to one and all that Microsoft remains without a clue as to what they ought to be doing to better market their products. They are so used to dealing with business users who hold long-term subscriptions and PC makers with huge contracts that they simply cannot comprehend the needs of regular people. Their brain-dead upgrade and full version price policies clearly indicate this. The special preorder price will conflict with the vacation plans of many potential customers, and without a major publicity campaign to accompany this special offer, I expect most Windows users will simply miss it.

Or maybe that’s Microsoft’s real intention. For people who complain the upgrade prices are too high, they can point to their special marketing initiative, even though it will too late for customers to take advantage of it. I do suppose that Microsoft could extend the offer. A better idea, though, would be to give customers a few months, perhaps until the official release date, and be done with it. I’m willing to say that they’ll get a lot more orders and far more income than they would receive from full price purchases.

But it’s not my place to tell Microsoft what to do. Clearly, up until recent years, they have managed to succeed with most of their new product initiatives, despite being largely retreads of innovations pioneered by their competitors. Even if Windows 7 is as miserable a failure as Vista, you can bet Microsoft will still make boatloads of money from it, and that’s all they care about, really.

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12 Responses to “The Microsoft Rip-off Report: Pay and Pay Again”

  1. AlfieJr says:

    the MS Tax is even worse for those who already paid once before to upgrade XP to Vista. Since Win 7 is really “Vista done right” (and just NT 6.1 compared to Vista’s NT 6.0), those poor suckers will have paid a total of $350 to $500 for what really amounts to a single OS upgrade. What a MS Rip Off!! let’s see if all the MS-loving “pundits” even take notice of how they are being systematically milked. i bet not …

  2. catweazle says:

    In all fairness,
    you should mention that the 10.5 -> 10.6 upgrade Apple offers ist the first one since 10.0->10.1 (which was free of charge), while MS did offer reduced upgrades since at least Win 98(?). Now compare their whole pricing structure since 2001 (when Mac OS X and Win XP where launched)and MS doesn’t look THAT greedy anymore, since 10.2 -> 10.5 where each $99 – $129. So bying every iteration of OS X since 10.0 will have you paid something like – $600? And finally, last I checked MS is still issuing critical patches for Win 2000 while Apple stopped doing so for (AFAIK) 10.3 or lower altogether.

    All this without opening ye olde can o’ worms of which is the better OS or offered more “bang for the buck” since 2001.

    • Voits Winkler says:

      You are right. Mac Is Always A Junk Hunkie. They Sucks In A Sick Kinda Way. Too Much Security And Have Very Less To Offer. Windows Isn’t Bad.

  3. DaveD says:

    I don’t understand why Vista Windows users don’t storm the gate of the Redmond campus and complain loudly. Vista users should get a free upgrade as a Microsoft’s “mea culpa.” Windows 7 is Vista Service Pack 3. This is just “lipstick on a pig” with a much better quality of lipstick.

    Windows XP users should get a special pricing offer as an incentive to move to Windows 7. Where are the anti-M$ tax crowd? This is not about which OS is better. It is about a mega-rich corporation in Redmond, Washington taking your hard-earned dollars again and again and again and again. Maybe users of Microsoft’s product are quite contented with this situation as long as HP and Dell make the hardware cheap to compensate.

    As a Mac user, we often complain with justification and are very vocal. As a result, we’ve got back FireWire back on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and a fix for the SATA speed downgrade. Thank you, Apple, for making these changes and the $29 Snow Leopard upgrade. Nice to be a Mac user.

  4. Dave Barnes says:

    One of the items that almost all of these analyses leave out (or consign to footnotes) is that Apple offers Family Pack pricing.
    How many families today own only a single computer?
    Our family (4 humans + 3 cats) owns 5 Macs (the cats have to share).
    When you start to compare OS upgrade costs for 5 computers, I don’t care what your time horizon is, Mac OS X is a lot less.
    Then there is the fact that you don’t have to actually buy the Family Pack version. I do, but I am sure that some people don’t. (Activation? Never heard of it.)

  5. When I buy a Mac OS upgrade I don’t feel ripped off.

  6. Joe S says:

    Dittos Neil.

    Dave, I live by myself and use 3 Macs of varying vintage and capabilities.

  7. Louis Wheeler says:

    Alfiejr said:
    “What a MS Rip Off!! let’s see if all the MS-loving “pundits” even take notice of how they are being systematically milked. i bet not …”

    Ir is worse than that, Alfie. Ed Bott is actually claiming that Apple’s upgrade to Snow Leopard is a rip off. He said in

    “In fact, according to my analysis of Apple’s own sales figures, 57% of Apple’s customers who bought and paid for new Macs in the past five years are ineligible for those cheap upgrades.”

    He faked some statistics to say that most of the Mac user base will be denied the $29 upgrade price, either because they are not on Intel hardware or they are on the Tiger OS. He set up his scam to totally confuse the issue. The poor Windows users remain befuddled.

    His bogus charts show Windows users going back to October 2001 upgrading to windows seven. This is dishonest because Window 7, while it runs better than Vista did, still requires better hardware than was available in 2001.

    Since PC users junk their computers every two years on average, most of the PC’s in existence are Vista computers downgraded to Windows XP. Those should work well with System 7, but not all will have the hardware necessary to run the Areo advanced compositing graphics system. Hence, they are not really comparable to a Macintosh.

  8. gopher says:

    Apple reduced its notebook price? Maybe features, but not really price (except 17″).

    The $1199 to $1699 MacBook Pros are really nothing more than a MacBook Aluminum with a Firewire port and an SD slot. But since they offered the Firewire port already on the $999 White MacBook, the SD slot addition is merely a convenience which can be had for $10, which Apple is offering at $200. And how many people are going to be able to use the Firewire 800? Most are going to adapt that to 400, and plus it isn’t a dedicated bus, unlike the old Express card. The MacBook Aluminum basically has had its feature set brought up to the standard of a Pro with the 15″ screen at $1699 and the white’s incorporation of Firewire. It still also only has a shared memory GPU. Finally at $1999 we might say the new MacBook Pro has comparison to the old MacBook Pro, except, there is still no Express/34. No dedicated place to put your SATA or Firewire Express/34 card. Finally the 17″ is a price reduction. But for those who travel a lot, the 17″ doesn’t fit on most Boeing 737 except the 737-700 and 737-800. So what advantage do we have here. Now if Apple brought a full chip GPU at $1199 to the MacBook Pro, then I’d consider it a price reduction.

  9. @ gopher: Sorry, bud, but price is price. You are paying less compared to the previous configurations in every respect. The NVIDIA integrated GPU is also faster than some dedicated chips. Check the benchmarks.

    Sounds like you are still working really hard to justify an argument that doesn’t wash. So let’s sum it up: The list price is lower. Maybe there are some features you’d like to see, but Express/34 was, according to Apple, only used by a small percentage of users.


  10. Louis Wheeler says:

    Besides, gopher, Apple does not compete on price. Anyone who can’t appreciate the differences between a Wintel and a Mac, will never be a good Apple customer. Good computing is not by hardware alone.

    The Mac’s major differences with PC’s are build quality, good looks and the Mac OSX operating system. Hence, you can always find a cheaper PC with better specifications. So, what?

    Snow Leopard will be raising the bar for Microsoft. What Snow Leopard offers Apple customers is increased speed on the same Intel hardware. Mac applications will be getting ever faster, through out the next year, as developers recompile for 64 bit processing.

    Anyway, The fastest running trial of Windows Vista was on Mac Hardware.

    Microsoft’s major liability is the Windows Operating System. Windows Seven, despite being faster and more efficient that Vista, is an insecure, stand alone system which needs to be rebuilt from the ground up to withstand the rigors of the internet. Microsoft is afraid to do this because it breaks all their existing applications. If MS does what is needed to secure Windows, then there goes their market share.

    Absent that fix, Windows needs to be sandboxed inside a REAL operating system like Linux or Mac OSX, or inside a hardware virtual space such as Intel’s VPRO. Either way, this means a slower, less flexible system than Snow Leopard. It might also push up Wintel’s price.

  11. Voits Winkler says:

    Mac Will Never Be Suitable For A Real PC Freak. Maybe For Business.
    Hell,… I’d Stick With Windows All My Life If I Have To.
    Imma Be Honest Though, Windows Vista Is A Rubbish And A Total Mistake From Microsoft.
    Very Relaxing. I Love It.
    Windows XP & Windows 7 Is The Best.
    As For Apple,………..
    If They Keep Up With The Iphone Restriction Always,…..
    They Might Go Out Of Business Some Day.
    They Should Realize That People From All Part Of The World Are Using It.
    Other Phones Companies Out There Should Have to make Phones With Large Memories
    And They Are Doom To Kick Apple’s Butt.

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