If Microsoft really charges $120-and-up for Windows 7, the company will send a very clear message: Don't upgrade. That, or Microsoft is betting that Vista victims will pay almost any price to get the ill-fated OS off their machines.
Which is it?
Microsoft is currently holding a two-week pre-sale "sale" on Windows 7, with Windows 7 Home Premium selling for as low as $50 a copy. If you miss the July 11 cut-off and wait until the official October 22 release, you'll pay full price, Microsoft says (for now, anyway).
Given that upgrades and sales of Vista on machines not powerful enough to show it to good advantage helped the OS gain its bad reputation, maybe Microsoft is hedging its bet.
Pricing Windows 7 upgrades high enough that current Vista users won't bother insures that most users will see the new OS on a new computer. If Microsoft can better manage its OEM partners this time, so that Windows 7 only sells on new hardware powerful enough to make it look good, then the new OS might avoid the early drubbing that Vista received.
Those early notices sent Vista down a road of no return, despite SP1 reviews, on better hardware, that proclaimed the OS not so bad, after all.
This time around should be different: Once Windows 7 is well-received on new hardware, Microsoft could lower upgrade pricing, with a stern warning about performance issues with older machines. If it works, such a strategy could save Windows 7 from Vista's fate, which is probably a good thing for everyone.
If Microsoft persists with the $120-and-up pricing, we can assume only one thing: that Microsoft has seen the future and that by October 22 the world recession will be over, money will have reappeared in people's pockets, and $120 for an OS upgrade won’t seem as outlandish as it does today.
But, if Microsoft had such prescience, I guess we'd be waiting for Vista II and not Windows 7, wouldn’t we?