Windows 8 Upgrade Offer – When $15 Is Not $15

This month Microsoft launched a Windows 8 upgrade program offering a heavily discounted (just $15) upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.

The offer is open to anyone who buys a qualifying Windows 7 computer between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013.

At first glance it seems a good deal but is it? Prior to the launch of Vista (2006) and Windows 7 (2009), upgrades for qualifying computers were offered for free – or with a nominal charge for delivery of an upgrade DVD.

Imposing a charge for upgrades now is not an ideal way to get users to switch to Windows 8. Microsoft will already have profited from selling the copy of W7 installed on those new computers – why not give away the W8 upgrade free to encourage more users to make the switch?

More than ever, Microsoft needs Windows 8 to be a success and provide synergy between the desktop and tablet markets – surely a rapid expansion of the user base should be their sole aim, not alienating users by scrounging a few extra dollars?

Lost Features – Windows 8 includes many extra features compared to Windows 7 – most notably the new Metro user interface. Whilst these may be highly attractive to some, not all the features users may have grown accustomed to have been continued in the new version of Windows.

Fore example, Windows 8 (all versions) does not include Windows Media Center or DVD playback support. It will be possible to buy a W8 Media Center Pack to add back this support – the price is unknown but Microsoft state it will “be in line with marginal costs” – could be anything from $10 to $30+

However, most new computers for consumers sold this year will have W7 Home Premium installed – with integrated Media Center and DVD playback. If these are features you use regularly, be aware that you will lose them if you ‘downgrade’ to Windows 8.

Differential Pricing – When is $15 not $15? When Microsoft convert it into other currencies. The W8 upgrade offer is supported in 131 countries and available in 23 currencies – to be precise the actual cost is $14.99

Those expecting a faithful conversion to their local currency may be sorely disappointed – or quite happy, as we shall find out below.

[Note that the upgrade will be downloadable software so there are no physical media or shipping costs to factor in].

The table below lists the currencies, the actual Microsoft Upgrade Offer price, the price it would be based on a straight currency conversion and the percentage difference (rounded) between the two – winners are in green and losers are in red.

Currency

 

MS Offer – Actual Price

 

Straight Conversion Price – theoretical

 

% Increase or Decrease

Australian Dollar $14.99 $14.92 0%
Brazilian Real R$29 R$31.26 -8
Canadian Dollar $14.99 $15.41 -3
Swiss Franc Fr. 17.95 Fr. 14.50 +24
Chinese Yuan ¥98 ¥95.31 +3
Danish Krone kr. 119 kr. 89.72 +33
Euro € 14.99 € 12.07 +24
British Pounds £14.99 £9.64 +55
Hong Kong Dollar HK$119 HK$116.30 +2
Indian Rupee INR 699 INR 852.26 -22
Icelandic Krona 2,499 kr 1,902.60 kr +31
Japanese Yen ¥1,200 ¥1,190.21 0
South Korean Won ?16,300 ?17,339.82 -6
Mexican Peso $199 $204.25 -3
Norwegian Krone kr 119 kr 91.09 +31
New Zealand Dollar $19.99 $18.98 +5
Polish Zloty 69 zl 51.75 zl +33
Russian Rubles RUB 469 RUB 496.64 -6
Swedish Kronor 139 kr 106.24 kr +31
Singapore Dollar $17.99 $19.17 -6
Turkish Lira TRY 29 TRY 27.39 +6
Taiwan Dollar NT$439 NT$448.96 -2.2

currency conversions based on x-rates.com

Microsoft state that pricing “is dependent on a variety of factors including exchange rate, local taxes, duties, fees, local market conditions and other pricing considerations”. Even allowing for differing taxes, duties and fees it appears that European countries in general – and the UK in particular with a gouging 55% price increase – may be seen as one giant cash cow for Microsoft…

Conclusion

The Windows 8 Upgrade Offer is still very good value compared to buying a standard upgrade version (likely to cost $100+) but it’s a strange decision to charge at all, considering what is at stake. The hassle of upgrading, loss of some W7 features and the polarizing new Metro user interface already combine to make the upgrade of a new computer to Windows 8 a hard sell for many.

Charging for the upgrade and highly differential pricing are unlikely to make this task any easier.