The conspiracy theorists are already out in force trying to convince us that there is another conspiracy being hatched by Microsoft. This plot suggests that Microsoft purposely priced the Windows 7 upgrade high in order to dissuade people from upgrading. The plot suggests that Microsoft wants people to buy new computers instead.

In a recent article by Bob Cringely he suggests the following:

I’ve had a couple days now with Windows 7 and it is certainly an improvement over both Vista and XP, requiring slightly less resources than either (significantly less than Vista), booting faster, and offering superior usability.

I agree with his assessment, so far, but here is his next thought:

The better question to ask is why Microsoft decided to set the price point where they did? And the answer to that one is quite simple: Microsoft doesn’t actually want you to upgrade to Windows 7 at all.

Microsoft wants you to buy a new Windows 7 PC instead.

Here is where I have to scratch my head and wonder why? Doesn’t it make sense that Microsoft would make more profit selling upgrade DVDs than selling licensing to OEMs?

The article goes on to also state:

Setting the price at $119.95 is a brilliant move on Microsoft’s part.  The company doesn’t want users to upgrade so by setting the price high Microsoft is essentially imposing a Windows 7 upgrade tax on users.  Buy a new Windows 7 PC from Staples and the software price drops to $49.95, the same as Snow Leopard.

Microsoft likes to make money, hence the Windows 7 tax, but their main reason for setting the price so high is to get us all to buy new computers.  That brings Microsoft less  revenue per unit but more revenue overall as businesses, for example, decide to upgrade a whole office with new PCs rather than pay $119.95 per desk just for new software. New PCs come with dramatically lower support costs for Microsoft than do retail upgrades. The pricing ploy makes Microsoft very popular, too with its Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like HP, Dell, and hundreds of others.

Hold on there. Everyone, and I mean everyone, had the opportunity to pre-order Windows 7 for a low price of $49.95. If Microsoft didn’t want us to upgrade, why was this offer made prior to the release of Windows 7?

This is one area where the writer makes a valid point:

Here’s another piece of evidence aiming in the same direction: have you actually done a Windows 7 upgrade?  Mine took seven hours!  It shouldn’t have to take that long unless part of the goal was simply to discourage upgrading.

My upgrade took 4.5 hours to complete. When I read other articles in which the writer states the upgrade took only 30 to 45 minutes I must become suspicious of their actually performing an upgrade. [See upgrade of my Toshiba laptop story here.]

But what do you think? Is this a conspiracy by Microsoft? Are we all doomed in having to buy a new computer as the writer suggests?

Comments welcome.