The Redmond giant unveiled three options: Windows Anytime Upgrade; Windows Vista Family Discount; and Windows Marketplace.
Brad Brooks, general manager of Windows client marketing at Microsoft, promised that the new structure will help customers choose the right version of the forthcoming operating system.
Windows Anytime Upgrade is a new online option that allows customers to upgrade their existing edition of Windows Vista to a higher-grade edition.
For example, it would allow a Vista Home Premium or Vista Business user to upgrade to Vista Ultimate.
To use Windows Anytime Upgrade, a customer clicks on the Windows Anytime Upgrade option in the Start menu, selects the desired upgrade edition and purchases it online to secure a new digital key.
Windows Anytime Upgrade allows customers to obtain detailed feature-by-feature information on the different Vista editions.
Microsoft's suggested retail prices to upgrade to premium editions of Vista are as follows: Home Basic to Home Premium US$79, Home Basic to Ultimate US$199, Home Premium to Ultimate US$159 and Business to Ultimate US$139.
Windows Anytime Upgrade will coincide with the general availability of Windows Vista in the US, Canada, Europe and Japan on 30 January.
Microsoft will make Windows Vista and the 2007 Microsoft Office release available for direct download for the fist time via Windows Marketplace.
From 30 January the site will offer the following upgrade editions of Windows Vista and full versions of the 2007 Microsoft Office release at suggested retail prices:
- Windows Vista Business
- Windows Vista Home Basic
- Windows Vista Home Premium
- Windows Vista Ultimate
- Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
- Microsoft Office Professional 2007
- Microsoft Office Standard 2007
Vista editions offered through Windows Marketplace are available in English only, in either 32-bit or 64-bit versions.
The third licensing option targets US and Canadian households with multiple PCs. From 30 January to 30 June, the Windows Vista Family Discount will allow North American customers to license two additional copies of Windows Vista Home Premium for use on other PCs in the home at the reduced price of US$49.99 each.
Before completing the order online, customers will need to enter one valid full or upgrade Windows Vista Ultimate key from their retail boxed product.
Microsoft had provided no information detailing whether this programme would be extended to other countries at the time of going to press.