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: