Microsoft has dealt a blow to Australian PC owners keen to grab the security and useability features in its latest operating system, posting an upgrade price from Vista to Windows 7 that's the same as the leap was from XP to Vista.
Windows 7 will be released on October 22.
In the US, the Home Premium upgrade price is 8 percent less than for the comparable Vista product. Americans benefit until July 11 from an offer on Home Premium upgrades for US$49.99 ($62.35); the general upgrade price is US$119.99.
A Home Premium upgrade in Australia will be $199.
Microsoft Australia said the difference was regional variations.
"Our prices vary by region and are determined based on a variety of market specific factors including, but not limited to exchange rate, local taxes, duties, local market conditions and retailer pricing decisions," a spokesman said.
No Australian promotions were planned "at this time", the spokesman said.
An upgrade version of the Professional edition in Australia is $399 while Ultimate edition upgrades rose $30 to $429.
Buyers of the full-disc version of Windows 7 Home Premium edition will get a $50 discount compared to Vista, with a retail price of $299.
The 14.3 percent discount is comparable to the US, where the full edition is discounted 17 percent.
But like the US, the full version of the Australian Professional edition is still $449, but Australian customers of the Ultimate product will again pay more than Vista, slugged an extra $20 for the privilege ($469).
Microsoft has also sought to avoid consumers and businesses putting off PC purchases until the new operating system hits.
The Redmond giant said from today, buyers of selected PCs running Home Premium, Business or Ultimate editions of Vista will get an upgrade offer to Windows 7 "for little or no cost".
HP said it would be offering the upgrade discs for free but said that "shipping and handling fees may apply depending on the retailer [or] reseller".
The vendor urged customers to check online which HP models were included in the offer before making a purchase.
HP also said it would offer an Upgrade Assistant to help consumers identify and install "most necessary drivers" to simplify the Windows 7 upgrade process.
But the PC maker said commercial customers would "follow a different upgrade process".
Upgrade kits will be shipped "on or after" October 22, HP said.