Microsoft decided to make several versions of Windows Vista available that differ in price, availability and functionality. The price of the system varies from $199 for Windows Vista Home Basic to $379 for the cutting edge Windows Vista Ultimate edition.
The price of Vista is already beginning to fall slightly but it will take some time before the price of the operating system will drop significantly.There is however the possibility to purchase Windows Vista for a cheaper price.
The cheapest way for most users is to buy so called System Builder versions of Windows Vista. Those are supposed to ship with hardware that was purchased at the same time but can be sold separately as well. The main advantage is the price of course, it ranges from $99 for Windows Vista Home Basic to $199 for Windows Vista Ultimate. This means that you can save between $100 and $180 by ordering a System Builder version.
This has however some disadvantages as well. The System Builder Vista ships with no manual and you receive no support from Microsoft or the retailer where you purchased the operating system. It needs to be noted that the System Builder variant cannot be transferred to another PC once installed.
Another option is be to purchase an upgrade of Windows Vista instead. Upgrades have the advantage that they are cheaper than the retail versions. Upgrades start from $99 for Vista Home Basic and end at $249 for Vista Ultimate.
Upgrade are intended to work with previous versions of Windows XP only but this has been proven wrong. It is possible to install Windows Vista from an upgrade DVD without having Windows XP installed at all.
Purchase a new Computer
The third option would be to buy a new computer with Windows Vista instead of upgrading your old one. If you were thinking of purchasing a new computer anyway you could look for one that ships with Windows Vista. This is mostly a valid option if you had the intention to buy a new computer, it does not make sense to purchase a new computer just to receive Windows Vista. Those versions are system builder versions most of the time and cannot be transferred to another computer.
You can however save money using the third option. Dell for instance offers Desktops with Windows Vista installed starting at $359. Those are usually system builder versions of Windows Vista Home Basic. Still you receive a new computer with Windows Vista for the price of Windows Vista Ultimate.
Vista Express Upgrade
If you purchase a computer with with Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center or Windows XP Tablet installed you may find a Vista Express Upgrade option inside. Those computer have been build before Vista shipped and the retailer had no time to install Vista on the system yet.
You can use the Express Upgrade to upgrade from your XP version to Windows Vista. The advantage of this method is that it is still cheaper to purchase such an "outdated" system with an upgrade option than to purchase a computer with Vista directly. This should not make a big difference but everything counts.
If you could get your hands on an express upgrade option alone you could save more than just a few bucks. Lets say your friend bought a computer with Windows XP Pro and an Express Upgrade option. He has however no intention to run Windows on his computer and switches it to Linux completely.
If he is a good friend and knows that you would like to upgrade to Vista he could simply use the express option to receive a copy of Windows Vista and hand it out to you. Or let you buy it for a few beers.
It is possible to save lots of money if you evaluate your options before purchasing Windows Vista. You could save $180 and more depending on the choices that you make.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.