In an effort to simplify the distribution of Windows Vista and make it easier for customers to upgrade, Microsoft will include the various retail versions of the OS on one DVD instead of having separate discs for each Vista edition.
In the past, Microsoft distributed each version of the Windows client OS on its own disc. However, in a move it is calling Windows Anytime Upgrade, the version of Windows Vista that a customer buys will be activated by his or her product key and will be on a disk with the other editions of the OS. This strategy will cut costs for Microsoft, and the firm has claimed it will simplify upgrading for customers.
For example, if a customer buys Windows Vista Home Premium from a retail store, he or she will get a DVD that also includes Windows Vista Ultimate, but the product key for the purchase will only activate Home Premium and its features and functionality, said Mike Burk, a Microsoft spokesman.
"With Windows Anytime Upgrade, the idea is to provide customers with the most convenient user experience possible by enabling them to more easily and directly upgrade to a higher edition of Windows Vista from within their current edition," he said.
Consumers will have their choice of several versions of Windows Vista when it becomes available, which is scheduled for January 2007: Windows Vista Ultimate, which will cost $399 (about £212); Windows Vista Business, which will cost $299 (£159); Windows Vista Home Premium, which will cost $239 (£127); and Windows Vista Home Basic, which will cost $199 (£106).