In an attempt to keep a level playing field among vendors of its software, Microsoft sets the price at which authorized dealers may sell Windows 7. However, there are a few places you can go and a few things you can do to ensure that you legally buy Windows 7 for the cheapest price.
Versions and Flavors of Windows 7
If you are like many people and you avoided Windows Vista, you may have been using Windows XP so long that you haven’t purchased an operating system in years. Like previous versions of the operating system, Windows 7 comes in a variety of versions and flavors. Here is a crash course on Windows 7.
If you own no qualifying upgradeable versions of Windows, you are stuck having to buy the full version of Windows 7. Windows 7 comes in three main varieties. The Home Premium version is the flagship flavor of the operating system. Its full version price is set at US$199.99.
Aimed at businesses and some home offices, Windows 7 Professional offers a few more features and goes for US$299.99 for the full version. The Ultimate edition has all the bells and whistles and whose retail price goes for a whopping US$319.99.
However, if you have a qualifying upgradeable version of Windows, you qualify for one of the upgrade versions that go for US$119.99 for Home Premium, US$199.99 for Professional, and US$219.99 for the Ultimate edition.
Legally Buying Windows 7 Cheap
There is a little known fact among most home users that Microsoft also releases an OEM version of Windows 7. This version of Windows 7 is identical to the full version except it is packaged and supported as a version of Windows that is intended to be loaded onto a new computer and sold.
This OEM version of Windows 7 is a quite a bit less expensive than the full version. The Home Premium OEM version of Windows 7 goes for US$109.99, the Professional version sells for US$149.99, and the Ultimate edition costs US$199.99.
However, there are a few caveats to buying and installing the OEM version of Windows 7. First, technically, only system builders are supposed to buy and install OEM versions of Windows 7 on a PC that ultimately must be sold to a consumer. Strangely, Microsoft does not monitor who buys an OEM copy of Windows 7 so there is nothing stopping you from legally buying and installing it on your own PC.
Unfortunately, you are mostly on your own when it comes to support for Windows 7 OEM versions. However, there are so many websites out there that can help you with your Windows 7 problems that most people with OEM versions use those sites or the Microsoft Knowledge Base to fix their own Windows 7 issues.
Some very large authorized dealers of Windows 7 are able to sell the operating system for a slightly lower price than those dictated by Microsoft. For example, the full version of Windows 7 Home Premium at Amazon is about US$199.99 rather than the expected US$199.99. The Home Premium upgrade version is only US$109.99 at Amazon rather than US$119.99. Not a huge savings but you may be able to offset your tax and shipping costs with these modest price decreases.
Microsoft sets the price at which authorized vendors may sell the various versions of Windows 7. However, be careful which version you choose because there are significant saving if you qualify for an upgrade over the full version.
If authorized to do so, you may also legally buy the OEM version and save some big bucks. Some large vendors like Amazon are able to sell Windows 7 for a few dollars below the set price. Shop around, do you homework, and figure out which version of Windows 7 is cheapest for you.
Image Credits: Microsoft