Microsoft is offering a time-limited Windows 7 discount for college and university students - in the UK, students will pay just £30 for Win 7 Home Premium Upgrade. The normal upgrade price is £80. But why not extend the upgrade deal to all consumers?
Here's what Microsoft could gain from such a move:
Better sales of Windows 7: Numerous pundits have opined that Windows 7 is overpriced, a marketing blunder that will discourage home-user upgrades. If you're running Vista on a home PC, you'd really have to loathe your operating system to shell out £80 for Windows 7. I suspect that most consumers won't bother. As usual, they'll wait until they buy a new PC before upgrading to the newest version of Windows.
Consumer goodwill: Microsoft screwed up badly with Vista, which has been reviled for its sluggish performance and nagging security messages. With Windows 7 Upgrade, you're paying to fix Redmond's blunders. Microsoft should make that fee as painless as possible. While the company's short-term profits might suffer, the positive buzz generated by a low-cost upgrade would help in the long run. Why not show customers a little love? Good PR could go a long way.
Lowered expectations: Windows 7's main selling points are that it's faster and less annoying, security-wise. True, there are some nifty interface improvements, but nothing revolutionary to make the OS a must-have upgrade, particularly at £80. A limited-time £30 deal is far more tempting.
Keeping up with Apple: The Mac folks are charging just $29 for Snow Leopard in the US and £25 in the UK - not such a great exchange rate, customers have complained, but still cheap for an OS. And, according to market research from NPD Group, Snow Leopard sales are far exceeding those of Apple's last two operating systems.
A $30 deal for Windows 7 Home Premium might very well have a similar effect on Windows sales, and give Microsoft something to crow about in its next batch of TV ads.
But £80? That's too much for Home Premium Upgrade, and consumers know it. Does Microsoft?