Why Isn't Microsoft Offering Free Vista Upgrades To Christmas PC Shoppers?

from the why-not? dept

While it seemed hard to believe that anyone was surprised by Microsoft’s latest delay in shipping their next generation operating system, Vista, it appears that it took at least a few investors by surprise — as Microsoft’s stock was driven down by the news. This seems a bit pointless, of course, as Microsoft will likely make up the difference when Vista does launch. The more troubled parties are Microsoft’s PC partners, who were expecting to sell many new Vista-powered PCs to consumers in the holiday season, and now worry that people may hold off buying. Of course, it seems there’s a pretty simple solution to all of this. Why not just offer free upgrades to anyone who buys a new Windows-based PC starting in November? That takes out most of the problem for buyers (though, the hassle of actually upgrading may make a few still decide to wait), while easing many of the concerns for Microsoft and the PC makers. Some PC makers have done exactly that in the past with Windows upgrades — so it’s not like the idea is unprecedented. In fact, reading over it, the idea seems so obvious, it’s almost amazing Microsoft didn’t announce the delay with just such a program in place to take some of the bite out of inevitable over-reaction from investors and the press.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Why Isn't Microsoft Offering Free Vista Upgrades To Christmas PC Shoppers?”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Matthew says:

Re: Re:

If you have read anything about vista, you would realize that vista couldn’t possibly be installed over an existing XP installation. Besides, if someone had a question about the OS wether XP or Vista companies outsource most of the support calls anyway. The added suport calls you speak of obviously make sense considering the previous history with Widnows OS Launches.

Topher says:

Always the double standard

I mean, Microsoft delays Vista, and all this negative comments come out, especially concerning how this throws the whole PC industry into limbo because of fear that people might hold off buying a new PC until Vista is released.

Guess what. Apple released Tiger, and anyone buying a Maca weeks before, during, and even a month after the Tiger release had to pay extra to get a Tiger upgrade. I mean, even after Tiger was released, Apple still happily sold people Mac’s with an older version of OSX on it, and then expected people to pay at least $20 for an upgrade.

Thats not to mention that its never a good time to buy a Mac, considering that 6 months later Apple always releases something better, faster, and cheaper that makes your purchase obsolete.

Why are these practices tolerated by companies like Apple, but not Microsoft?

Sick of the double standards, MS isn’t doing any other company hasn’t done, just that people jump down their throats more for no good reason.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Always the double standard

20 bucks is nothing to most people which is why I wouldnt mind if I bought a mac during the time you said they would be doing this, but its especially nothing when you compare it to how much M$ would want to charge for an upgrade – XP by itself costs what, 100 for a win-98/win2000 to xp upgrade, and 200 for the full home edition, and 300 for pro

from what I understand, M$ wants to release like 6 versions of vista anyway, so whats the #6 top of the line “ultimate” or whatever they call it gonna cost? 500? 800? a thousand $?

Brandon Zylstra says:

Re: Always the double standard

I cannot believe how tirgger-happy your comment is: it looks like you didn’t even read the original post. You’re criticizing Mike for having a double standard, but he’s not criticizing M$ (as you seem to think) for not offering free upgrades to anyone who buys Windows just before the new version comes out. He’s pointing out that _since_they’ve_once_again_delayed_Vista_ it would be a good marketing move to reduce the pain to users by offering this free upgrade. Basically, M$ has once *again* broken their promise. (No surprise!) This hurts them (in the short term, at least, though Mike thinks not in the long term) and hurts PC makers, and hurts consumers (except those who decide to switch), so M$ could *at*least* *partially* honor their previously stated release date.

It should be pointed out that Apple has never been late in releasing new versions of OS X. In fact, they’ve (on at least one occasion) been early. On the other hand, M$ keeps delaying the release, and removing the only interesting components of Vista. It’s all vaporware, and its what you should expect from a company whose wealth is built on lies and theft.

tlap says:

Re: Always the double standard

I don’t think the problem is Microsoft charging for the operating system. I think the problem is exactly what you said. Every 6 months MAC comes out with something new, better and faster and it takes Microsoft years to develop something new, then it doesn’t come out any time near it’s due date.

Ian says:

Re: Always the double standard

This isn’t true. I worked in an Apple Store and if you bought A computer 15 days before Tiger shipped, all you had to do was fill out a form and a copy of your receipt and Apple would send you a new one. Also, when tiger came out, we slipped disks in every computer in stock, if we missed one and a customer complained, we gave them an off the shelf copy.

The $20 you speak of was a disk exchange for the CD version of Tiger, if you didnt have a DVD drive. That covered shipping and handling.

yo mama says:

Re: Re: Always the double standard

Better faster cheaper is a fact of life in the computer world, a dual pro 733 is a PC, and a slow one by todays standards and the aforementioned gentelman to which you make mention of his trap, was refering to Apple. You probably use a Microsoft product, even though you dislike them. And your not my mama.

shashinka says:

Re: Frankly, I hope the delay is indefinite

I agree. I was using a dual boot scenario with Windows 2000 for stability (word processing, ms money) and Windows ME for applications that wouldn’t run on 2k (like games, nice photo shows, etc). When XP came out I had a reason to upgrade. Right now I don’t see a reason. We are testing an application at work with Vista (Longhorn) but that’s all that I have seen of it. Should play with it some more.

John says:

Post 3 is on point, but I think an upgrade for Vista will cost more than 20 bucks.

Keeping what the above poster said in mind, there is another way of analyzing the question that provides a pretty good reason why MS will not offer free upgrades – people will pay for them anyways. Further, they will buy a new PC anyways. When people need a new PC it is generally for a reason, not on a whim, and that reason demands answering NOW, and not later.

Further to this, do the editors of TechDirt really beleive that the average consumer will be aware of the impending realease of Vista? Will they even know what Vista means? I think not, sir.

Stupid question, easy answer.

Cary says:

Oh come on now....

You don’t really expect Microsoft to deliver in 2007 do you? Well, even if it is in 2007, it will not be in the first two quarters. They’ll keep delaying it. They just give a date at some point to keep people from jumping off the MS bandwagon. Then they push that date out at regular intervals. Eventually they meet at some point in the future, but anytime Microsoft tells you any date more than 30 days out, don’t believe it!

Ken says:

If Microsoft continues with its current trend of out-sourcing its help to India, I for one, am going to stick with what I’ve got. I cannot understand those people, they don’t speak American English! Bill Gates is just shooting himself in the foot trying to save a few bucks. Hell, he is already the richest man in the USA. Hire American Bill, and just give your billions to 3rd world countries, it’s a right off anyway.

Pudgy-faced AppleJohn says:

Are you kidding? Bill Gates is “shooting himself in the foot”? How, exactly, is a person with a 95% market share shooting himself in the foot, pray tell? All of a sudden people are going to buy Macs or download and install Linux at the drop of a hat? No. PCs are not going anywhere, and by association, Windows is not going anywhere. You will continue to buy Windows, no matter what kind of cut-rate service you get, no matter what bloated, overpriced charges they put on your shoulders, no matter if you like it or not. Why? Because you have no choice. That is the nature of a monopoly.

I am very interested in the new Operating System being released by Google however. That should make things more interesting.

A Geek@BestBuy says:

Re: Re:Vista, Microsoft & Dell Support

Dell~#1 in computer sales, has just announced That they are hiring 10,000 new employees. If you want to be one of those 10,000, you will have to move to India! That’s right, Dell, with no forethought to putting more Americans out of work, or better yet, not hiring more Americans, has decided to hire 10,000 more of those Indians to be your “tech support”! We, at Best Buy love it when people bring us their Dell computers to fix. The Geek Squad @ Best Buy see a person walk through the door with a Dell know right away what they are going to say. “I was one the phone for 3 hours with Dell tech support! I can’t understand what they saying!??? That’s why the “Geek Squad” is going to make 3 billion dollars in revenue this year(2006)! Dell, Microsoft,keep up the good work!

Vincent says:

Re: Re:

To Pudgy face, I am sick and tired of hearing people bad mouth Microsoft look I have quite a few gripes with some of their products like everyone else, but people who hate and bad mouth just to bad mouth or worse yet attack Bill Gates personally need to learn to use something eles I directed this to Pudgy’s comment not to flame but to point out that he summed it up. You really do have a chooice and you listed them if you don’t like the product there are other choices use them, instead of ranting or using personal attacks go use Linux or buy a Mac. Just because you dont like your choices dosen’t mean they don’t exist. Thanks for reading

JediN8 says:

Re: Re:

Microsoft does not have a monopoly. Linux and other OSs are just not easy enough to use to be a viable alternative. I installed a couple of Linux boxes at home and trust me, most users at home are not going to be able to re compile the kernel just to get support for their new video card. Linux may be more powerfull but it is like a Nascar that needs a pit crew to support it. Check the forums. The same people that cry that everybody in america should move to linux are the same ones answer novice questions with sarcasm and STFU n00b!! Until Linux becomes as simple to use as Windows people will not like it. Software installations need to be easier and adding new devices must become easier or the 80 percent out there that is computer illiterate will stick with Windows.

Scott says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:Not a Monopoly

That does not constitute a monopoly. There are untold numbers of linux variants as well as MacOS. Given that linux is free normal consumers must see something in Windows(read usability) that Linux does not offer them. You can buy machines without windows on them, if you chose to not go somewhere you can, then that is your choice.

Cary says:

Re: Re: Re:

most users at home are not going to be able to re compile the kernel just to get support for their new video card

Give me a break! If you are a gamer, then you may want to have the latest graphics card, but most of the recent cards are compatible with new releases of Linux. If you are a gamer, then you probably want Windows XP anyway. I haven’t had to compile a kernel for YEARS and I keep pretty nice graphics cards in my systems.

Software installations need to be easier and adding new devices must become easier or the 80 percent out there that is computer illiterate will stick with Windows.

I find that the installations of most software on Linux is easier than it is on Windows. I don’t know what version of Linux you are using (probably the MarquisDeSadix), but you must not be using the same one that I am. People only think that Windows is easier because they learnt it good, and have no tolerance for anything that is different. I’m not saying it is perfect, and there are some things that are easier and better on Windows, but I am able to do everything that I need and want to do on Linux, and it is much more stable, and uses fewer resources than Windows. My laptop hardly ever turns on the fan with Linux, but it is going more than 50% of the time that when I have to boot to Windows. I have an Turion 64 and 1GB of memory, so it isn’t just the swapping, though it does occasionally run out of memory on Windows with fewer applications running than on Linux.

In summary…. Windows and Linux both have their places, and both have pluses and minuses. But, I’ll take the pluses of Linux over the minuses of Windows any day. Your mileage may vary.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“You will continue to buy Windows, no matter what kind of cut-rate service you get, no matter what bloated, overpriced charges they put on your shoulders, no matter if you like it or not. Why? Because you have no choice.”

Let me correct that for you … You will continue to buy MACHINES with the choices of installing other OSs like Linux or BSD yourself. For average users, what you said may be true to some extend but that’s still not a very good arguement if you know how easily Linux distros can be installed these days.

Irony says:

Not announcing it isn't the same as not doing it

IT has been standard policy for ages that software purchased from Microsoft (or a retailier, not part of a OME PC deal) 90 days before a release is upgraded for free. However, since Windows sold as part of a computer system is the under the control of the computer maker and they agree to support it, Microsoft can’t announce a deal, the makers have to announce the deal.

Business 101 stuff,…

The headline could have been anything in the absence of an announcement.

Neutral says:

Why didn't MS prepare a safe pin?

Why didn’t MS prepare a safe pin?

One possible scenario might be this:

Simply because that makes the press and netizens speak, talk, discuss louder and more frequently about Vista, which amounts in fact to invaluable advertizing on Vista.

That is, MS might have thought the enthusiasm on Vista till now had not been satisfactory. (Personal experience: till now, most of my acquaintances simply do not know about Vista, simply because they have never heard of it)

I’ve already seen numerous news on the delay of Vista including this article (without my “intention” – since they were displayed on my start page) and this seems to me a supporting evidence of this scenario; my friends should come across the OS name, seeing the surge of the amount of news about it.

skrunt (user link) says:

knows how to play the cards; monopoly

ok i guess this is more time for vista advertisement … this is the first OS released since XP from ms. its suppose to be built from the ground up and supposeably suppose to fight spyware. a freind (highly respected in the chatroom) stated they are trying to top xp. i will admit i have no big problems with xp and i enjoy it. my oppions on pushing back the release date is they want vista to top xp and make people to think before switching to mac, linux or other options out there. MS stated themself (think it was bill gates actually) if ms wants to stay at the top of the game wehre they are now they will have to change. for a anexample they didnt think inet was gonna take off so IE wasnt a big project .. inet took off so they moved it up and put it in their OS. MS is essentially a monopoly and hopefully when i own my buisness i can be at least half of what that company is.

microsoft knows how to play the game, you should give them credit for that!

Cary says:

Re: knows how to play the cards; monopoly

microsoft knows how to play the game, you should give them credit for that!

So did Hitler and Mussolini, and for a while they were winning the game, but eventually, because their system was flawed, they failed. I’m just waiting for the masses to drag Bill Gate’s body through the streets of Redmond, and for Steve Balmer’s body to be found in a bunker. 🙂 One can only hope. 😀

Brian says:

Two basic points

First off, it is highly unlikely that most home machines can even handle Vista, and that doesn’t even count the graphics card requirement to support Aeroglass (which is not mandatory if you don’t mind the XP look). Even on my high end system here, I stil had to upgrade the graphics card and the prior one was no slouch.

Secondly, as with most every new/upgraded piece of software that I’ve seen since Windows 2000 (when I started testing for MS), there have always been delays as we demand that the final product go out the door as fully cooked as possible. If anything, they are trying even harder with Vista, which is why they went to a faster cycle on test releases (CTP’s). We’ll see if it pays off for the user.

snurfle says:


I bought 3 new PCs for the engineering department 2 weeks before XP was launched. The manufacturer promised they would ship the machines with Win 2K, which was a tried-and-true product; all of our software worked fine with it (we just needed more horsepower.) They said it would come with a coupon for a free XP upgrade.

I received the machines a WEEK before the XP launch, and they had XP installed.

Our CAD/CAM package (Esprit), our 3D-modelling system (SolidWorks) and our business system client (SAP) all refused to work on XP.

Esprit and SolidWorks are right aroung $25K total, so this was no small problem.

Three months of phone calls to the “tech” support department proved only that Mujibar and Rajish can not fix problems, and would not give me W2K, and I finally went to the local retailer and bought 3 seats of 2000.

After fdisk and install, the new machines performed perfectly.

My point is this:

Who cares if Vista ships early or not?

People who want it just to claim bragging rights will be the ones who are forced to do all of the troubleshooting (and they are typically the loudest complainers, too!), People who require it to run their new software don’t exist yet, and the people who just need a stable OS to keep the company computers functioning (such as myself) will sit back and wait at least six months before considering it.

Interesting side note: Win XP activation is bypassed if the OS sees a Dell BIOS, so none of the installations are ever actually registered.

I have since used the three XP disks to install on one of my home machines, and to update a couple of older DELL machines. Never had a problem with activation or upgrades!

bob p says:

Free Vista Upgrades on New PCs

I agree – the idea is so obvious that it makes you wonder why it wasn’t handled that way – however there is a good reason for it. From what I have read from many new sources, the PC makers are the ones who told Microsoft to delay the consumer version. There reason was to avoid “consumer confusion”, personally I think they are sittin gon alot of XP machines that they want to clear out beofre the new OS is available. Would you buy an XP machine when a Vista was available?

Cary says:

Re: Free Vista Upgrades on New PCs

Would you buy an XP machine when a Vista was available?

I would, if it meant that I could still run another OS on the machine, if Microsoft’s Secure Computing is in place on the machine with Vista. They will tie a computer to running only Windows. That’s one way to ensure your monopoly. Just say no to Microsoft.

Panic says:

Free PS3's

Well, it’s not like Sony’s delay of the PS3 makes an entire industry sit on their thumbs and wait either.

The PC industry has a past of doing the upgrades, such as when win98 came out, if the PC you were buying had 95 on it preinstalled, they would give you a free win98 upgrade.

You’re also talking the difference of a 6 or 700 dollar piece of hardware, vs. a 200 dollar piece of software.


RJD says:

Winners & Losers

Winner : Playstation 3. Now parents will put these under the tree for christmas instead of a new PC.

Winner : Microsoft. Vista has been on continual delay and it just doesn’t matter to most users.

Losers : Dell/HP. I don’t care if free vista upgrades will be available to purchasers. If you wait the 2 months plus, you’ll buy more machine for the same money. Time to use those gift cards.

Losers : Software companies (pick one). No catalyst for new products.

Winner : Consumer. Hopefully a better OS and 99.9% of users really don’t need an update to their OS. Especially when most of the best features have already been removed.

Sleeps says:

MS doesn’t need to offer a free upgrade. They don’t have contract with any end-user to deliver Vista by whichever date, hence they have no obligation to offer it for free. Because you already have a valid copy of XP (assuming you bought a PC recently), and there is no way to simply “upgrade” from XP to Vista, they would have to give you a valid copy (worth somewhere around $300 at least) of Windows Vista.

Oh… and I highly doubt that MS needs any advice regarding their marketing style. Likewise, you can’t dominate the market if you are based on lies and theft.



Sleeps says:

MS doesn’t need to offer a free upgrade. They don’t have contract with any end-user to deliver Vista by whichever date, hence they have no obligation to offer it for free. Because you already have a valid copy of XP (assuming you bought a PC recently), and there is no way to simply “upgrade” from XP to Vista, they would have to give you a valid copy (worth somewhere around $300 at least) of Windows Vista.

Oh… and I highly doubt that MS needs any advice regarding their marketing style. Likewise, you can’t dominate the market if you are based on lies and theft.



Dan says:

Um....why not wait and find out?

Good God people, it’s only March. Why the heck would the announce a free upgrade plan for the Christmas season now? IIRC, when XP came out the OEMs negotiated their own upgrade programs with MS– Dell had the free upgrade deals going on, but not all of the others.

And as people pointed out, Apple never has free upgrades. They’ll give you a discount if you’ve bought a system within two weeks of the new OS coming out, but otherwise you have to pay the full price.

So for every one bitching and moaning about this, why don’t you switch to Linux. Ubuntu is a really nice distro, easy install and a great support community– but you’ll have to wait for the new version to be released, it’s been delayed until June. 😉

Rob Stevens (user link) says:

Vista Upgrades

Because it’s unnecessary. Why? Because those PCs will have Vista on them. OEMs will be getting Vista in November as planned. Only the consumer (read IN STORE) versions will be delayed until January.

Microsoft isn’t always as stupid as people think.

That said, you guys crack my ass up. Waaaaa … why don’t we get upgrades because we bought a computer right before a new version was supposed to come out … waaaaaa!

That’s the way tech works. Educated consumers wait. Uneducated consumers will never know the difference (or care) anyway. What a huge non-story.

RocketScientist says:

Because they don't have to

What are you going to do, go buy windows from somebody else?

That’s what being a monopoly is all about. They don’t HAVE to offer lower prices or free upgrades, because YOU have no choice.

“Oh, but we don’t have to buy upgrades”

Right. Until that next virus comes out and Microsoft says “Oh, we can’t patch that, it’s too old”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Its all about revenues.

I don’t see that anyone else has suggested this idea, so I’ll chime in… Microsoft may be squeezing the pc manufacturers for a better deal. If the manufacturers are desperate enough for a free upgrade offering, they will be more willing to re-negotiate their contracts with Microsoft and end up paying more for the software. Bottom line…the cost increase will just get shifted to consumers. Vista will cost more.

Devin (user link) says:

Is anyone really surprised???

Since when did Microsoft ever do the SMART thing? While a successful company, Microsoft tends to make some pretty big blunders on a regular basis (see Windows Me and XBOX 360), so the fact that they aren’t doing the obvious in providing themselves a guaranteed consumer base before launch is, well, not a shock to me. They should take a page from the video game industry and do pre-orders. Then again, they can’t even master that (see 360 again).

mark says:

Free upgrades? Microsoft?

You may not be given the choice about upgrading or not, depending on what Microslob wants to allow. I had to start over with XP after a hard drive upgrade convinced XP I was trying to install it on a 2nd computer. They may decide to only allow Vista on new installs for a time, or only upgrades, or whatever else they want, depending on how if affects their bottom line.

Kapil says:

I switched to Ubuntu

I was waiting for Vista, hoping that it would be more faster & stable then XP. However there is no mention of those factors in any reviews. I dual partitioned & installed ubuntu & much happier that my system doesn’t slow down when i work overnight. There is nothing i am unable to do ubuntu. true it took a couple of days to get used to the new interface but after that it is easier and anyway if i stop liking it i can always uninstall. its free, so whats the loss. If i buy vista, it will be only when i buy a new system & then too i am going to dual partition until all those few outdated websites start working in Firefox.

Douglas Bell (profile) says:

free upgrades to Vista users who have had thousands of patches and needed downloads to make it work.

free upgrades to Vista users who have had thousands of patches and needed downloads to make it work.

Why decide that cutoff date for December?

Because you bought in September of 2008 not knowing when 7 would be released…as has been the history delay new releases..in Microsoft releases….and then thousands of updates to correct Vista…. and its short comings and lack of security, etc…
Ever try to copy the history of updates…or print screen to paint…. If you have let me know how you did it.

7 should be an update for Vista…purchased in the last 12 months…..and at a low cost… and free if purchased since July of 2009. We should thank Microsoft and Bill Gates for what has been done. they should reward those of us who made it possible to become the richest man in the world.
And now our money is going to foundations….and that is good…however there should be a foundation for users of all MS releases… and for the most recent Vista…which was not complete when he purchased it. We were bug reporters..for the software….and that pointed to that which the developer did not know about….to try to fix…and to this day is still completing and fixing Vista.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...