Windows 7 Deal: Students Win, Others Lose

Microsoft announced yesterday that it is offering Windows 7 to college students for $30, one-quarter the price that everyone else will pay.

This got me thinking about a couple things:

First: Those damn college kids. It's all keg parties, classes that don't start until 11 am, copious vacation time, hope in the future, and more keg parties. Now they get Windows 7 for the cost of a large pizza and a case of Bud Light. Youth is wasted on the young.

Second, the discount for scholars magnifies how overpriced Windows 7 is for the rest of us. In its necessary effort to appeal to the young and try to curb the momentum of Apple's strong-selling $29 Snow Leopard, Microsoft also shined a glaring light on Windows 7's hefty price tag of $120 for the Home Premium version.

Windows 7 Bible: Your Complete Guide to the Next Version of Windows

Make no mistake, the Windows 7 college discount itself is a cool idea. After Snow Leopard released dirt cheap and earlier than planned on August 28, Microsoft was left with egg on its face. Windows 7 prices and its ship date were set โ€” there was no turning back. Yet Microsoft had to respond to Snow Leopard in some way.

Why not college students? They're young and tech savvy. They're cash-strapped so they're always looking for a deal. And most importantly, they're hooked on Macs, and need a compelling reason to break the habit.

Some details on the Windows 7 college discount: Students can buy upgrade versions of Windows 7 Home Premium or Professional for $30 until Jan. 3, 2010. A valid .edu e-mail address given by an official college or university must be used to qualify. Microsoft has posted a list of colleges that do not have .edu e-mail addresses that still qualify.

An e-mail confirmation will be sent to students, who can then buy one copy of Windows 7 Home Premium (retail price: $119.99) or Windows 7 Professional (retail price: $199.99) at Microsoft's online store for $30. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed with Ars Technica that as of yesterday (Sept. 17) students can pre-order their copy of Windows 7 and then download the OS beginning on its Oct. 22 launch date.

Microsoft is offering the promotion through a site called win741.com that promotes Windows 7 to colleges.

This is an excellent deal for students, a major league discount. The only ones who won't need to take advantage of this deal are those students who bought a new Vista PC for the new school year, and bought it after June 26. Those kids have a free Windows 7 upgrade coming to them on Oct. 22.

For those proactive students who took part in the Windows 7 $50 pre-order deal that lasted from June 26 โ€“ July 11 ... sorry you just got out-discounted by $20. I wouldn't worry about it โ€” think of all the free beer you're going to drink this semester.

But what about the rest of us, paying 120 bucks for Windows 7? Doesn't seem right, does it? PC World's Jeff Bertolucci writes convincingly about why it behooves Microsoft to make the Windows 7 $30 student deal available to everybody.

Snow Leopard is selling like hot cakes at that price. Why wouldn't Windows 7? But $120 for Home Premium? Windows 7 is not a revolutionary change from Vista. There's no real motivation for consumers to pay that much if their Vista machine is working just fine.

I pre-ordered Windows 7 back in late June for $50 as part of Microsoft's limited-time upgrade deal. I mainly did it because i write about this stuff (I have no complaints about my Toshiba laptop running Vista Home Premium. I don't need Windows 7).

Would I have had the foresight to pre-order Windows 7 if I were an accountant? No. I'd be stuck buying it now for $120, which means I probably wouldn't buy it at all.

Can I go back to college now?

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