Windows 7 will set you back at least $199, but upgrade paths for new PC buyers are still ill-defined for Australian users.
Any PC purchased from 26 June running Vista Home Premium, Business or Ultimate will be eligible for an upgrade to Windows 7 for "little or no cost", according to a Microsoft Australia press release. However, what that means in practical cost terms hasn't been announced, and it will vary by manufacturer — so some might offer a completely free upgrade while others slug you for "delivery fees" and other random expenses. The offer will run until the end of January 2010.
For new copies, Microsoft is trumpeting the fact that a new copy of Windows 7 Home Premium will cost $299 — $50 less than the equivalent version of Vista. However, every other option either costs the same as Vista or is more expensive.
Upgrade pricing for Home Premium is $199, Professional is $399 and Ultimate is $429. For brand-new copies, Home Premium costs $299, Professional is $499 and Ultimate is $469. In both cases, Ultimate costs more than the equivalent Vista release. There'll likely eventually be cheaper student and OEM prices, but those haven't been announced by Microsoft.
While the online world is already comparing the prices for Windows 7 to Apple's upcoming Snow Leopard (which still doesn't have an Australian upgrade price), that doesn't seem an entirely fair comparison. The lack of new features in Snow Leopard makes it more akin to a Windows Service Pack — an option Microsoft has always offered for free.
Does those prices seem reasonable to you, or make you thinking you'll be uninstalling the Windows 7 RC next year when it stops working? Share your thoughts in the comments.