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Windows 7 upgrade scam

A little 'mistake' by sales staff can cost the unwary serious money plus other Win7 buying tips.

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We don’t normally delve into the world of Windows but a visit to some big electronics stores revealed a nice little ‘earner’ for the store and Microsoft.

Lot’s of people are heeding the promotions and buying Windows 7 but there’s confusion about the upgrade entitlement that makes it easy for sales staff to steer customers to a more expensive option.

The confusion comes because of the difference between the upgrade path or procedure and the update or full product you buy. Something we mentioned in Office Watch some months ago.

Sales staff we’ve heard in several stores are conveniently confusing the two. They say that “you can’t upgrade from Windows XP” and steer the customer to the non-upgrade Windows 7 which can cost US$80 more.

Windows Vista users can buy the cheaper Windows 7 upgrade options and then install it on their computer will all their existing programs and data transferred.

Window XP users can also buy the the cheaper Windows 7 upgrade options but have to do a ‘clean install’ on a computer. Programs have to be reinstalled and data copied to the new operating system. Microsoft provides an Easy Transfer tool to copy data, but not programs.

Maybe the sales staff are also confused between the upgrade path and licence entitlements, but it’s an awfully convenient mix-up which is profitable for the store and Microsoft.


For most people the Windows 7 ‘Home Premium’ option is sufficient and there’s a economical ‘Family Pack’, a three computer licence for less than buying three separate upgrades. Though it’s not available in all countries and is, again conveniently for Microsoft, harder to get.

Tip: College students (and equivalent in some other countries like Canada, UK, France, Germany, Mexico, Korea and Australia) can buy Windows 7 Home Premium for US$29.99 (instead of over $100) until 5 January 2010 – click here.

Tip: if you bought a new computer or separate copy of Vista after 26 June 2009 should qualify for a discount Windows 7 price – click here.

Only Windows Vista or XP qualify for Windows 7 upgrade pricing. If you have Windows ME, Windows 95, Windows 2000 or any other Windows ancestor you’ll have to pay for a new copy of Windows 7. That’s assuming your old computer is sufficently powerful to run Windows 7 without delay (a whole other topic but in short we feel that 1.5GB of RAM is the minimum requirement for Win7).

As usual, if you can hold off until after Christmas you’ll probably see better prices than are available now.

Also as usual, the Microsoft web site has the worst pricing.

Finally, however you upgrade to Windows 7, always make sure you have good and verified backups of all your data first.

Article posted: Monday, 21 December 2009

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