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Price war brewing: Mac OS X Snow Leopard vs Windows 7

by Parm Mann on 9 June 2009, 15:04

Tags: Windows 7, Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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In the midst of a long drawn-out and underwhelming WWDC conference in San Francisco, Apple revealed that its next major operating system, Mac OS X Snow Leopard, would be offered to customers as a $29 upgrade - a bombshell that would have been heard all the way in Redmond, Washington.

The operating system, scheduled to launch this September, will be priced $100 lower than the previous Mac OS X release. Either Apple's being generous, or it's hoping to put a dampener on Microsoft's Windows 7 - which is currently scheduled to launch a month later on October 22nd.

Dig a little deeper, though, and there could be more to it than meets the eye - indeed, Apple may actually be slashing the cost of its Snow Leopard upgrades in response to rumoured pricing from Microsoft.

Just days prior to the WWDC conference, a leaked Best Buy memo providing details of Microsoft's retail strategy was unearthed by Engadget.com. According to the memo, Best Buy will begin to presell Windows 7 via its website beginning on June 26th, with upgrade pricing listed as $49.99 for Windows 7 Home Premium and $99.99 for Windows 7 Professional.

Putting that into perspective, Windows Vista Home premium launched in January 2007 with an upgrade price of $159 for Windows Vista Home Premium and $199 for Windows Vista Business. Should Best Buy's memo prove to be accurate, the home-user orientated edition of Windows 7 will be priced nearly 70 per cent lower than the Vista alternative.

That's a generous decrease, but Apple, it seems, still has the upper hand. Snow Leopard will be first to market, and Microsoft will be hard pushed to match Apple's unprecedented $29 price tag. Furthermore, Apple will be offering users a five-license family pack for just $49. Microsoft, on the other hand, is yet to detail any multi-user packages.

They say competition's a good thing, and a price war between Apple and Microsoft could soon be raging. We're eagerly awaiting Microsoft's Windows 7 pricing structure, be it influenced by Snow Leopard or not, and in the meantime the Redmond giant has added Windows 7 to its online store, revealing its final boxart designs:

HEXUS Forums :: 25 Comments

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This can only be good news, as it will drive the price down further :)
Now, if Apple reduced the price of their hardware by that much, we might be getting somewhere.
A price war seems pretty pointless seen as you need apple hardware to run OSX and people with apple hardware not likely going to buy W7. Its not as if they both operate in the same market really.
If Apple really wanted to deal a blow to MS, they'd de-couple it from the locked hardware, and sell it as a retail product for anyone. At that kind of pricing (or even 49$) it'd be a nice little shockwave.

As it is, MS can realisitically ignore it, since the only people who can take advantage of the price have already locked themselves into Apple hardware/software-wise, and are therefore not MS customers in the first place (I know boot-camp affects that a bit). A low priced OS upgrade for expensive hardware doesn't really impact MS who are largely selling to the sub-500$ brigade.
Either way it's good news, i'd happily pay under $100 to upgrade both my desktop and my macbook :)

Oh, and i have the Win 7 beta on my macbook, it's great to have a safetynet for when i need to run Office 2007 properly - the Apple version is fine, but you can't input equations easily. Remember that a lot of people are in the situation i am, they have a laptop and a desktop and went for OS X on the move and a windows desktop for things like 3D work (i.e. 3DS Max/Autocad) and gaming with a proper graphics card.

The thing to bear in mind is that Apple is ramping up their market base, macbooks are becoming more common with people going to University/College and the offer of a free iPod Touch in the states isn't something to sniff at (works out to something like a $200 rebate). Yes, they're nowhere near as large as Microsoft, and once again - Microsoft does not care about it's profits from consumers, they make their money from business and large scale contracts and that is probably why they dropped their price. If you are a corporation with 2000 computers to upgrade, do you want to be paying $100 for Vista per machine? With a potential $50 tag (probably reasonable for a large license cost per machine) it's much more palatable.

Apple have never really made very expensive operating systems - OS X Leopard has been consistently under £80 for a new disc and of course they tout that there's only one version (none of this home, business, ultimate nonsense). Snow Leopard is somewhere between a new operating system and a glorified service pack. It's not got quite enough new to be called a complete overhaul (it's all about tweaks, not about features), but it's got more than enough to qualify for a reasonably priced download.