Time for Microsoft to look out a new Window


When Microsoft ships Windows Vista later this year I’m hoping that it will finally take a chance and keep the price reasonable for a change. Nearly every version of Windows has been priced at levels clearly aimed at corporations. Given this, many consumers have opted to essentially pirate Windows instead of pay the ridiculously high price of the software.

Don’t give me the argument about how important the OS is to the overall system. Keyboards are the devices that get the most use on a PC and most people refuse to pay more than $20 for one.
I also don’t want to hear the argument about how you can get the OEM version at a significantly lower price. The OEM version wasn’t intended for end-users and is just an example of Microsoft choosing to turn the other way when it’s sold to end-users. In other words, it seems clear that Microsoft realizes this is a problem and, as an answer, lets users wiggle through a loophole to get them onboard. When they then complain about piracy problems, I have to laugh. How about actually applying the Flight Simulator model for a change? If the OS were $50 you’d find a huge number of “pirates” suddenly buying the product.

Let Microsoft charge extra for support. They’re going to do that anyway. However, let’s finally give the consumer a real shot at buying the product instead of offering it to him for $500 or some other equally ridiculous price. I recently did an informal survey and out of roughly 30+ people I asked, half owned the software because they bought their system and the OS came with it. Of the other half only one person actually owned the software. When I asked the other 15 why they didn’t own it, price was given as the primary reason. I also often heard the refrain “everyone I know has a copy of Windows that I could use so it came down to paying a few hundred dollars or taking the copy.” Hmmm……

Yes, I also realize that Microsoft does sell a cheaper version of XP called the Home Edition but there’s nothing “Home”-like about it. The only thing it seems to offer over the Pro version is the annoying trait of needing to continually be re-authorized when you make significant hardware changes. Okay, that does remind me of my childhood days having to ask my parents for permission to do whatever I wanted to do but I somehow doubt that was Microsoft’s intention. In fact, I’m seriously hoping that the “Home Edition” concept dies with XP.

Vista looks to be a very nice evolution in the Windows story. Wouldn’t it be nice, for a change, if the vast majority of consumers could afford to legally own a part of that story for themselves? Anything over $99 is simply asking too much of the consumer for something that comes on a disc.

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