Windows Vista Needs Family Counseling

Break out CALC.EXE and get ready to crunch some numbers. According to reports, Windows Vista US prices have been made public – and those prices have officially made baby Jesus cry. Actually, Jesus laughed first – and then he cried. I swear, Microsoft is its own worst enemy.

Off the shelf, Windows Vista Ultimate will cost the user $399 per copy – with subsequent licenses weighing in at $359 apiece. Upgrade prices for Ultimate are slightly less rapey ($259 with $233 on additionals). If you’re planning on upgrading your home network of five machines, you’re going to spend $1159 for 5 Ultimate upgrades. Conservatively, if you’re upgrading the same network to Home Basic, you’re going to spend $356.

Apple’s OS X is available at $199 for up to 5 computers. It’s that simple.

32 thoughts on “Windows Vista Needs Family Counseling”

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  4. I’m with you on this point. I actually like what I’ve seen of Vista so far, and had planned to buy it – but not at these ludicrous prices.

    The worst part is that some features which appeal to me such as the game performance tweaker are only in the ultimate edition. They’re forcing gamers to pay for the enterprise features that most will probably never use, which is completely unacceptable.

  5. Well, all of a sudden having XP for the next few years makes a great deal of sense. And I am the uber geek who always has to have the newest software. So if they lost me, they are losing most people.

  6. Why upgrade? I have not seen any compelling reason from all the media hype for me to upgrade unless I buy a PC. Heck I bet could buy a PC for almost 400 with a copy of Vista so why buy the software or am I missing something?

  7. Ubuntu (and other versions of Linux) are free, as are the thousands of programs available for them.

    After reading about the buginess of Vista and the gouging prices, I’ve installed Ubuntu as a dual boot on a P3 (try that with Vista) and have an Ubuntu laptop coming.

    After several days with Ubuntu. its’s clear to me it’s a fine substitue for Windows.

    Will some of my PCs still run Windows? Sure. But not all of them any more.

    Ubuntu is billed as “Linux for human beings”. It’s easy to install and use too.

  8. That simple? The $200 is for a service pack, not an operating system. If Microsoft charged $40 per seat for their service packs, rather than the current free, everyone would complain about that as well. The fact is that the Mac OS doesn’t have a retail price; it just comes free with a minimum $600 hardware fee.

  9. >> The $200 is for a service pack, not an operating
    >> system. If Microsoft charged $40 per seat for
    >> their service packs

    Eh, the service packs are more-or-less bug fixes. Why should we have to pay extra for Microsoft’s oversights?

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  11. So your point is if you have to install just one machine (which is what the vast majority of users will do), Apple is three times more expensive than Microsoft?
    If you analyze all possible scenarios for different pricing schemes you’ll always find one that favors one player. It’s THAT simple.

  12. Reality Check: Windows XP Service Pack 2 was a huge update, especially on the security front. There have also been several Windows Media Center updates that added a significant amount of features. However, I do agree that Apple’s updates are bigger than Microsoft’s service packs, although they are most certainly not new operating systems.

    OS X 10.3 and OS X 10.4 are the same operating system, and yet upgrading from one to the other costs $30 more than upgrading from XP Home to Vista Home Basic, two different operating systems. Yes, you can buy a volume license, but who the hell has five Macs?

  13. Microsoft are a dying breed, and they know it. They are attempting to milk everyone for as much as they can before they die. Analysts are saying that Microsoft have to follow the Linux route or face a horrible death. They don’t necessarily have to go open-source (at least not immediately), but they should probably move to a low-cost subscription format.

    Take SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (also known as SLED10). They charge you nothing for the operating system, yet with the new Xgl components Linux has finally surpassed Microsoft in the User Experience arena. Check out this link for a 5min video of someone using SLED10’s amazing (and productive) interface:

    This release is designed for the corporate market, but any end user can get it from SuSE’s website (, and you can use it entirely free. If you activate the produce they’ll give you 2 months free support, and after that they charge you just $50/year if you want the support. If you are good at using Linux you could update most things manually for free, but what you’re essentially paying your $50/year for is simply for their time and money to package the updates, test the updates and host the updates (bandwidth and servers aren’t cheap!). I find that totally reasonable. They give you the choice. Go ahead – try it. It’s free.

    Alternatively you can go to and get the “home” version completely free, including updates. It’s not as slick as SLED10 and needs more work to get it working just right, but that’s the price you pay for not paying anything.

    SLED10 even comes with a customized version of OpenOffice, which is 100% document-compatible with Microsoft Office, and even supports most Visual Basic macros (and for those of you that know how computers work, you’ll know how pretty amazing that is!). It even comes with licensed Afga Fonts that mimic the Microsoft TrueType fonts so that your Microsoft Word or Powerpoints docs look identical! And how much do you pay for this amazing software? Zero. Nada. Not a penny. It’s even sponsored by Sun Microsystems, a major corporate. You can, of course, buy a service contract if you want it, but again that’s up to you, and if you do it’s pretty darn reasonable. Also, if you want the regular version of OpenOffice, that’s free too. Just download it from their website ( for Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc.

    This is just one look at a single Linux distribution and one application. There are literally thousands of applications available on Linux – and 90% of them are free and fully functional. And don’t think of “free” as being similar to Windows freeware. Windows freeware is closed-source and very limited. Linux open-source applications are feature rich and better than most commercial applications. The Gimp would even give Photoshop a run for it’s money (whilst not charging you a penny).

    Microsoft has no way to compete with this revolution. However, the one major reason Microsoft is not falling quicker is simple. There is still one huge, major and annoying drawback to running Linux. Software (and some new hardware – although this is generally much less of an issue) Compatibility. A lot of vendors are majorly killing the Linux market because they REFUSE to release their products for Linux. It’s easy enough to do (my company produces the same product for Windows, Linux, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, VMS and even Mainframe), but they have a lot of financial incentive not to do it, and Microsoft will do their best to keep it that way. One of the main culprits is Intuit, who make Quicken and Quickbooks. Both these products are made exclusively for the Windows platform (and the latest Quickbooks 2006 won’t even let you use a Linux fileserver just for the datafiles!) and a lot (read 95%+) of small businesses depend on this product. They have the biggest market share for small-to-medium business accounting, so smaller companies have absolutely no choice. Linux does have some very very good accounting software available, but unfortunately company accountants will usually only accept electronic accounts in Quickbooks format. Other culprits are Adobe with their Photoshop products and Quark with the QuarkXpress products. Entire business segments are stuck with Windows (or Macintosh – although MacOS-X is actually built on FreeBSD, another open-source POSIX operating system similar to Linux) because vendors refuse to build software for Linux. However, this will not last much longer. Many vendors are seeing the error of their ways and are now having to release Linux versions of their software. IBM has gone for Linux in a MAJOR way. Many games too also run on Linux (e.g. Quake, Doom, Unreal Tournament, etc), and are usually better and faster. Of course, games made by Microsoft are unlikely to ever run on Linux.

    Microsoft also earn major revenue from OEM sales. Every computer you buy (e.g. from Dell or HP, the two largest vendors in the world) usually comes with Windows pre-installed (especially laptops) and you are charged for the license (also known as the “Microsoft Tax”). Dell has refused point-blank to sell a computer without Windows, and it’d be impossible to get HP sell you one either. So, even if you didn’t want to run Windows, you still pay for the Windows license. See how clever Microsoft are? That is, technically, in breach of contract as the EULA (End-User License Agreement) that you have to accept when you first turn on your computer specifically says that if you don’t agree with the license you can return Windows for a full refund, but no hardware manufacturer will refund you (and neither will Microsoft as they say they don’t know how much you paid for the Windows portion due to the bulk purchasing of the hardware manufacturer). In the server market this is not true, however. HP, Dell, and others, will let you choose not to have Windows on a server, and in fact you can even choose to have Linux pre-installed. This mentality will eventually reach the Desktop market, especially now that clean easy-to-use Linux distributions are becoming available.

    So, there you have it, Microsoft is slowly (but surely) going down (unless they change their greedy ways), and Linux is gaining more and more popularity every day. Feel free to pay your Microsoft Tax if you want, and even pay double if you decide to go out and buy a retail Microsoft license, but at least be informed and look at your choices first. If you are a gamer you might still be stuck with Windows, but why upgrade 5 computers? Just upgrade one to Vista (if you REALLY want it for Windows-only games), and switch the others to Linux if you can. The more people buy Windows, the longer Microsoft will continue to exploit the world.

    Please note that I am not against Windows for the sake of being against Windows, like some people are. I run Windows myself for some applications, but I am truly annoyed by Microsofts attitude, and also the attitude of the pro-Microsoft camp. There are rarely any *reasons* given by pro-Microsoft people, just a lot of rude comments towards anything or anyone that opposes Microsoft, and usually because that person doesn’t understand anything other than Windows. I personally undertand several operating systems, including Windows, at a very deep technical level, so I feel that I am fully qualified to make the above comparisons. However, please feel free to comment! 🙂



  14. To Club G4 Eclipse:
    How much did you pay for your OEM Aero Kit?
    I bet way more than what you are going to pay for Vista’s Aero. And no, the Eclipse’s Aero kit is nothing more than a cosmetic upgrade.
    Just a small reality check.

  15. CantWin:
    You say most pro Microsft guys only attack opposing views without any reasoning or justification, but that’s exactly the opposite of what I see. Most pro MS posts, right or wrong, are just listing facts or agruing rationally, while most (not all) anti MS posts are “Microsoft is doomed”, “Microsoft Sucks”, “Vista is useless”, etc., or just plain wrong, like saying that most users NEED Vista Ultimate, without saying (and probably without knowing) which features only available in that version are the ones every user needs (domain membership? Tablet? Media Center?). Yes, Vista Basic is probably not for everyone, but neither is Ultimate and there are intermediate versions that should please most users.
    As for your appreciations that Microsoft is slowly going down, maybe you are a vissionary, but that’s not what sales figures show. MS is selling more than ever, while most of their competitors are sinking. Yes, Linux is growing in some areas, so is Microsoft. That’s what I call a healthy market with several contenders competing for the users dollars, even with different strategies. I doubt Microsoft will be the only player in a few years, but it is almost as certain that neither will Linux. Both (and probably Apple and some other players) will keep out innovating each other, many times copying each other (and if you do a serious feature analysis of features you’ll see that neither of those camps is copying much less than the other guys) and in short giving users more for their dollars every year. Does that sound that bad?
    PS; the reason many HW companies refuse to sell computers without Windows is precisely because they pay the Windows licenses dirt cheap, and that is less expensive than supporting computers that go out without Windows. You might say that’s not true, that it’s just Microsoft’s strong arming tactics, but the DOJ intervention established rules that prohibit MS from signing deals that force HW vendors to use Windows, and still the vendors find it a good deal to provide only Windows. Are you suggesting they are all dumb?

  16. I think MS has volume licensing for 5 computers or more.

    But anyway, Apple can allow $199 for 5 computers for two reasons:
    1. Apple makes money on the hardware. They’ve already made much money on those 5 computers since they got the hardware sales. The OS sales are just gravy.
    2. I hate to say it, but many Mac users pirate OSX upgrades. Apple has no activation (because of reason number 1, they’re not as concerned with software revenue), and it’s common for one Mac user to buy OSX and let his buddies “borrow” it. Apple knows this, so they can provide the $199 for 5 computer deal *BECAUSE NOBODY MAKES USE OF THAT DEAL*. Those that have 5 Macs (either themselves or possibly among their friends) buy one copy and install it on all 5.

    BTW, most people have one computer at home. Vista Home Basic upgrade is cheaper than OSX upgrades. But I think Home Preminum will be the main home OS, and its upgrade price is greater than OSX’s, but not greatly so. And with OSX you pay $130 for really minor upgrades. Tiger charged $130 for deskop search and dashboard. Panther charged $130 for Expose and a better Finder. That’s $260 in the span of one year for features that aren’t exaclty mind-blowing. I think the jump from Jaguar to Tiger was worth about $60 at best, not $260.

    BTW, this “I’m switching to Mac” stuff is simply a case of “the grass is greener on the other side”. I have both a Mac and a Windows computer, and I know the strenghts and weaknesses of both. Those of you thinking that Macs are perfect are in for a rude awakening when you make your “switch”. Same thing for Ubunto, but even more so.

  17. Hello,

    When Microsoft Windows Vista ships, I suspect there will be rebates, bundles and promotional offerings, just like there were when Microsoft shipped previous versions of Windows. As such, it may be available at launch at promotional pricing which is less than the MSRP, although I wouldn’t expect that to last (again, following the history of previous deals at launch time).


    Aryeh Goretsky

  18. Herby:

    Okay, maybe my proclamation that Microsoft is going “down” may have seemed amateur-ish, and I apologize for this.

    However, let me answer your questions. You say that users can purchase the “right” Windows for their use, and yes, that’s true – but it appears that Ultimate is targetted specifically at business users (the number 1 purchaser of Windows). Here’s a quote from

    Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate:
    If you want all of the best business features, all of the best mobility features, and all of the best home entertainment features that Windows Vista has to offer, Windows Vista Ultimate is the solution for you. With Windows Vista Ultimate you don’t have to compromise.

    Now, doesn’t that look like the most expensive Windows version is targeted at the biggest user base? Sure, they have Vista Business and Vista Enterprise, but they are crippled so that only the most basic business users can use them. Then there’s the IT cost in managing different versions of Vista across the company, so most companies will pick one version and roll it out to everyone. Microsoft will of course give a discount on the Select agreements or to their Gold partners (which my company is, by the way).

    As for Home users, they have Home Basic and Home Premium. Firstly the name is a marketing tool in itself. People don’t want to have something on their computer labeled “Basic” – afterall, isn’t everyone a computer “expert”? The other issue is that gamers will want Ultimate too due to the game tweaking options available only in Ultimate. Now, you might be a standard home user who only uses word processing or spreadsheets, but wouldn’t you like to play games too? Sure, you can still play games on the Basic or Premium versions, but why do you have to settle for less because you didn’t want to get ripped off for Ultimate?

    Five different versions of an operating system is simply a joke. It’s not choice – it’s exploitation. Microsoft have a history of always leaving out a specific feature that people want so that they upgrade. For example, out-of-the-box XP Home hasn’t got Remote Desktop, SMP (multi-processor), ASR, Dynamic Disks, IIS (Web/FTP services), EFS (Encrypted FS), Access Control, Domain logons, Group Policy, IntelliMirror/RIS (Remote Install), Roaming Profiles, Multi-language support, Sysprep, IPSec UI, SNMP, Simple TCP/IP, SAP agent, Netware support, etc.

    Now, you may argue that XP Home users don’t need those features, but regardless it’s still crippled. Domain Logon, Remote Desktop and SMP are the most annoying – although Microsoft did “fix” the SMP issue with a patch due to Multi-Core processors emerging. This just shows the difference between just Home and Pro editions of XP. Imagine the differences between FIVE different OS’s (and we haven’t even started on the Server editions).

    As for your comments concerning the market share, you’re right. Microsoft share seems to be growing. However, that does not take in to account that (a) you are FORCED to have Windows on any new machine – and since more and more people are buying computers, the figures will show more Microsoft out there, and (b) it doesn’t show the people that buy but then then install something else (Linux, BSD, Solaris, etc). Also, you didn’t mention that Linux market share has been growing too. As of Aug 2005, IDC showed that Linux server growth had increased by double digits every quarter for 12 consecutive quarters (i.e. over 3 years). 11.5% of all server revenue per-quarter was Linux (this might not sound like much, but it’s HUGE considering Microsoft have a strong foothold). As of Q2 in 2005 Linux showed a 45.1% growth, and for three consecutive quarters prior to the press release Linux servers exceeded $1billion in revenue (per-quarter). Windows, of course, grew too, but nowhere near as fast. This trend I believe will continue to the desktop market.

    Your comments concerning the hardware vendors I believe is completely unfounded. I was talking about OEM vendors, of course, such as HP and Dell – who do not generally manufacture the board-level components, which are generally supported by Linux just fine. OEM box vendors also do NOT have to provide software support, unless someone wants to pay for it – so it costs them nothing (and if someone wants to pay for it, fine). I think the biggest reason OEM’s haven’t shipped with Linux is due to the lack of a good desktop OS available for Linux. Well, that has all changed now with the release of distributions such as SLED10, so I expect OEM’s to offer this in the future. However, the one big problem I have with OEM is not giving the *option* of a completely blank hard drive so that you can install whatever you like on it (and, of course, they would not have to provide any support). Instead you have to pay for the Windows license – in fact the Microsoft certificate is stuck to the side of your computer (and is a nightmare to get off cleanly). Microsoft might argue that people will buy machines without an OS then install a pirated copy of Windows. That might be true, but quite frankly, that’s not our problem. If Windows has a weak licensing mechanism (and it does), then that’s Microsoft’s problem – we shouldn’t be made to pay for licenses we don’t use just to pay for Microsoft’s license issues.

    To close, I completely AGREE with your comments regarding choice. I think having several vendors competing in the market place is a very good thing, and it keeps people innovating. However, what we have today is NO CHOICE – and that is my problem (and it should be anybodys problem too – even if they happen to love Microsoft). I don’t mind Microsoft having a place in the world, but their unethical practices sicken me (as is proved by the constant anti-trust litigation). Hardware and software should be completely seperate, and if you want to buy Dell, HP/Compaq, Fujitsu, or Toshiba (the primary choices for a desktop/laptop platform – a lot of stores stock nothing else, other than the “GQ” no-name brands, which also come with Windows!), you should be able to do so without paying Microsoft for the privilege.



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