Microsoft yesterday kicked off a Windows 7 promotion that heavily discounts copies of Windows 7 for college students, with the price nearly matching what Apple charges for its Snow Leopard upgrade.
The deal lets students with a valid university-provided e-mail address purchase either an upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional for $29.99. Each student can purchase one copy of either edition, which they'll be able to download starting on Oct. 22, Windows 7's official launch date.
Students in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Korea and Mexico are also eligible for the discount, but won't be able to order until Oct. 22. Microsoft has not set prices for those countries.
The offer ends Jan. 3, 2010 in every market except for Australia, where it will run until March 31, 2010, Microsoft confirmed Friday.
This promotion isn't the only deal that Microsoft has used to prime the Windows 7 pump. For two weeks starting last June, Microsoft sold the Home Premium upgrade for $49.99, less than half the list price of $119.99.
The college student discount, however, is the largest Microsoft's yet offered for Windows 7, and puts its new operating system within striking distance of Apple's $29 price for Mac OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard.
Earlier this week, a retail sales research firm said that Apple had sold twice as many copies of Snow Leopard in the first two weeks than it managed in 2007 when it unveiled Leopard -- and four times as many copies as Tiger, the OS Apple launched in 2005.
At $29.99, the student price is just 25% of the list for Home Premium, and only 15% of the list price for Professional.
Students attending schools that don't distribute .edu e-mail addresses must provide additional proof by scanning a student ID card, class list or proof of course payment, then uploading the file to Microsoft. The company's also posted a list of pre-approved colleges and universities; students at those schools do not have to provide an .edu address.
Microsoft provided more information on the promotion at 741.com.