Just when the Vista to Windows 7 migration path appears relatively smooth and clear, up pops another bump in that road to make life interesting. This time, there’s been one very emotional and highly negative reaction to Microsoft’s recent pre-release promotional pricing extravaganza for Windows 7 Upgrades ($49.99 for Windows 7 Home Premium, and $99.99 for Windows 7 Professional through July 11). There’s apparently no such deal for Vista Ultimate in the works, despite Microsoft’s having charged a premium price for that product, in part based on promises for extras that were supposed to include “cutting-edge programs, innovative services, and unique publications” not available to owners of other Windows Vista versions. In actual practice, that turned out to be the fun but not terribly valuable Microsoft Hold ‘Em game (developed for MS by Mobicore), the MS Tinker game and related themes and backgrounds, and some interesting but not terribly valuable animated themes and backgrounds. No publications and no services at all, with applications and stuff that was arguably far from anyone’s idea of the cutting edge.
This has caused a firestorm of furor among Windows Vista Ultimate owners, many of whom have opined that MS should give them a free upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate by way of apology for failures to deliver on the aforementioned promises of valuable extras and add-ons. I can understand this sentiment, but have to observe that while charity may now be Bill Gates only and primary avocation, charity has never been a priority for the company he founded. Frankly, I don’t see this happening, though it would be nice if MS did relent, and offer a half-price ($160?) upgrade from Windows Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate on more or less the same terms as what they offered for Home Premium and Business/Professional versions.
To enterprise users and admins, however, this whole phenomenon is just a sideshow. For them the real unanswered questions are “How much will volume licensing for Windows 7 cost? What kinds of cost differentials apply to Windows 7 Business versus Windows 7 Enterprise?” These are the burning queries that must be answered to help them figure out when it makes sense to switch over to Windows 7, and how much that move is going to cost.