Microsoft sets Vista pricing, expands tester base

Microsoft has released the pricing for Windows Vista, about a week after online retailer, Amazon.com, disclosed the OS's pricing on its website.

The company also expanded the tester base of Vista to about 5 million users as it begins gearing up for Windows Vista's widespread release, which is scheduled for early next year.

Microsoft's suggested retail pricing for Windows Vista is as follows: $US399 for Windows Vista Ultimate, $US299 for Windows Vista Business, $US239 for Windows Vista Home Premium and $US199 for Windows Vista Home Basic.

Upgrades to Windows Vista from XP are $US259 for Windows Vista Ultimate, $US199 for Windows Vista Home Premium and $US99 for Windows Vista Home Basic.

The prices are the same as the ones listed on Amazon.com's website last week, except the online retailer listed an upgrade for Vista Home Basic as $0.95 more. Amazon.com is already taking pre-orders for Vista, and lists on its website that the OS will be available on January 30, 2007. Microsoft has not given a firm date for Vista's release, but is targeting sometime in January for the OS's general release. The company plans to release Vista to business customers in November.

On Friday, Microsoft made available Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of Windows Vista, which means the OS is in its final testing phases. The release was initially made available only to about 15,000 users who are in Microsoft's TechBeta and Technology Adoption Program (TAP) program, but it has now expanded that release to members of the Windows Vista Customer Preview Program. The company also will post Windows Vista RC1 to its Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) and TechNet Web sites so subscribers of those programs can download it. The company said that about 5 million users worldwide will have access to RC1 as Windows Vista goes through its final testing.

General manager of Windows client product management, Shanen Boettcher, said the early feedback Microsoft has received on RC1 has been positive. He said Microsoft would determine whether to make a second release candidate available based on tester feedback to RC1.

Windows XP had two release candidates before it was shipped to manufacturing. Analysts have said that if Windows Vista follows the same path, it will be a tight squeeze for Microsoft to get the OS out according to its current schedule.

Windows Vista's release has been delayed several times, and industry and financial analysts have said they think the release will slip even further into 2007. However, analysts said the release of RC1 and Vista's pricing were positive signs the company could be on track to release the OS on time.

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