Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Microsoft is being foolish.

Could this be the future? Google Chrome OS
Since I wrote my previous post praising Windows 7 I have received emails and phone calls saying the same thing. There is total confusion regarding pricing and availability of certain editions. Being that I am an international Microsoft Subscription member and able to download any edition in any language and receive a valid product key I was unaware of what was going on in the retail market in Israel until now. There is considerable confusion as to what the differences between the OEM, VUP and Retail versions is as well as the considerable difference in price. (See my updated post on this here:
http://rebmordechaiwrites.blogspot.com/2009/12/windows-7-upgrade-or-not-update.html )

Now, a friend told me that he had bought the VUP Upgrade version from Office Depot. He made it clear to them that he wanted Windows in English and even spoke to them in English. Nevertheless they sold him a Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade edition in Hebrew. When he tried to return it after opening the box and seeing that the DVD booted up in Hebrew (but before entering the Product Key) they refused to take it back or exchange it. They told him that the Upgrade edition was not available in English. This person then phoned Microsoft for help and was fobbed off with the answer that he must speak to the retailer and not them.

I asked a Microsoft salesman who happened to be visting the office where I work today whether there was an English version of Windows 7 VUP Update and he admitted that he had no idea. When I asked him why the Upgrade stated that it was for XP machines which cannot be upgraded I was met with another blank expression. He said he'd get back to me. If he ever does I'll post it here.

(*** UPDATE *** I've seen the English version advertised online on Israeli stores).

Please note: It is possible to buy either the English or Hebrew version of Ultimate and download a language pack to switch languages. This possibility is not however available with Home Premium. If you buy it in Hebrew then the user interface is fixed to Hebrew and there is nothing you can do about it. In my opinion, Microsoft has made artificial divisions and intentional "dumb down" limitations to their different editions for marketing reasons only. The fact that you cannot change the language interface of Home Premium even once is very mean on their part.

Don't think of trying to use your Windows 7 Hebrew version Product Key on someone else's English Edition. It won't accept it. Considering that Windows 7 is in reality simply Vista Service Pack 3, the prices are preposterously high. Both Home Premium and Ultimate Retail Editions are both at least NIS 500 overpriced. Windows 7 is the best Windows yet but it's simply too expensive. Microsoft is not only being greedy but stupid! There is simply not enough incentive for either XP or Vista users to upgrade yet.

What could change? Well first off, Microsoft could force XP users to upgrade by discontinuing XP security updates. They wouldn't dare do this with Vista being that its only two years old. The other thing they could do is lower the prices perhaps? This will surely happen when Google bring out their new Google Chrome OS whenever that will be. If it comes out sooner rather than later then history will show that Microsoft over played its hand. If insufficient Windows users have migrated to Windows 7 by the time Google Chrome OS comes out then its curtains for Windows. Google will clean up as angry disgruntled users rush into Google's arms. The product doesn't even have to be any good, just sufficient for people to be able to browse the Web and run an Office like application.

Google's company motto is "Don't be evil". It is certainly good advice for Microsoft at the moment. It's interesting times ahead.

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