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Summary:

Microsoft just kicked off a special pricing deal for it’s Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade program. You can save nearly 40-percent to move a netbook from Starter Edition to Home Premium, for example. But there’s a catch and I think Microsoft ought to remove it.

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In the past, I harshly criticized touchscreen netbooks that come with Microsoft Windows 7 Starter Edition. Why? There’s simply not as much point in paying for a touchscreen display if the device operating system doesn’t support touch multitouch input. If you’ve been touched by this situation, you do have an option — upgrade to a higher version of Windows 7 so you can tap on your screen with two fingers. Of course, you have to decide if the upgrade price is worth it. To bump the Starter Edition to Home Premium is normally $79.99, for example.

Microsoft just kicked off a special pricing deal to make the upgrade more attractive, but they’re falling short in one key aspect. First, the deal: for a limited time, Microsoft is reducing the upgrade pricing using the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature. A move from Starter Edition to Home Premium is $49.99, which is a $30 savings. Windows 7 Home Premium can be kicked up to Windows 7 Professional for $79.99, which is only a meager $10 savings over the standard pricing. So for $50, you can add touch support, not to mention the Aero desktop features, handwriting recognition for inking and Windows Media Center functionality to a netbook currently running Windows 7 Starter.

While this sounds great, there’s a bit of a catch — as I read it, the deal is optionally offered by computer retailers on new netbook or notebook purchases. Unless I’m missing something, there’s no way to get the reduced pricing on a currently owned device, and that’s simply tragic. Yes, if you purchased a computer prior to this, you knew what operating system you were getting with it. But offering lower upgrade prices to new purchases and not existing customers makes the deal appear to be a ploy to sell more computers — not to show any appreciation to existing customers.

Is this a good deal for new purchases? Yes, I believe it is, although you have to make the decision based on your budget and computing needs. Could it be a better deal? Yes, it could, by Microsoft extending it to current users of Windows 7. A good “meet me halfway point” would be to offer the reduced upgrade pricing to any consumers that registered a new Windows 7 machine since the beginning of the year.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

How Microsoft Can Win Back the Tablet Market

  1. Just a head’s up Kevin, Windows 7 Starter does support touchscreens, but it doesn’t support MULTI-touch. It also lacks the tablet software package, meaning handwriting recognition and Windows Journal. I have a S5 with W7 starter and it works just fine without those features.

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    1. Shoot. I do that all the time = forget that’s it’s multitouch / inking. Too many editions make Kevin confused. ;) Fixing now… thx!

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  2. It’s a funny situation. HP’s latest Vivian Tam netbook comes with Home Premium and 2GB RAM, whereas all the other HP mini’s only allow XP or Starter and 1GB RAM. Why this netbook and not the other models? I don’t think it’s the butterfly effect.

    An N470 with 2GB RAM and SSD is ample fast to run any version of Windows 7, but while I can understand not offering Professional or Ultimate from a pricing point, Home Premium should be made available for the Pinetrail platform. The restrictions MS placed on netbooks running XP and pre-2010 hardware no longer apply IMO. Today’s netbooks have the guts to run Windows 7 as well as any basic notebook.

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  3. I’m pleased to see this. The Viliv S5 version with W7 Starter seems wrong to me. I’m sure it works, but why not have inking inking (whether or not it has multitouch).

    The same with the Archos 9. Obviously vectoring would be an issue to ink with the Archos 9, but not having any inking capabilities I think is a deal breaker for me for a Windows tablet.

    I’d love to know if WritePad will be available in an iPad specific version.

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