Microsoft goes ahead with Vista coupon scheme

Users who purchase a qualifying Windows XP-powered PC between tomorrow and March 15, 2007 may be able to enjoy a free upgrade to Windows Vista when the operating system comes out next January. As predicted, Microsoft has teamed up with a number of PC makers and system builders worldwide to bundle PCs with upgrade coupons that guarantee a discounted or free upgrade to Windows Vista to qualifying customers. Major PC vendors including Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Sony, and Toshiba are participating, although offers and qualifying systems are liable to vary depending on the company.

Smaller so-called "system builders" will also join in, but they will only offer discounted upgrades. Through participating system builders in the U.S., upgrades from Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 to Windows Vista Home Premium and from Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Professional x64, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition to Windows Vista Business or Windows Vista Business x64 will be offered "for a nominal fee." Meanwhile, upgrades from XP Home to Vista Home Basic or Vista Home Premium will be offered for half the price of the boxed upgrade edition plus shipping and handling.

Vista upgrades are only part of Microsoft's plan, though. Via the Microsoft Office Technology Guarantee program, which will also run from tomorrow until March 2007, users who purchase a PC with a qualifying version of Office 2003 pre-installed will be able to upgrade to Office 2007 almost free of charge. With major PC makers, upgrades will be offered for free plus the cost of shipping and handling. The same will apply to smaller system builders, but customers will be required to provide a proof of purchase, as well. Office 2007 is scheduled to come out in "early 2007," according to Microsoft.

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