Microsoft urged to give Vista Ultimate users free Windows 7 upgrades

Microsoft Corp. should give Windows Vista Ultimate owners a free upgrade to Windows 7, an analyst said Monday.

"I'd like to see a free upgrade [to Windows 7] for Vista Ultimate users," said Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "It would buy them a lot of good will, and I don't think it would cost them much."

Cherry cited Microsoft's failure to deliver on the promise of "Ultimate Extras" as his reason for urging the company to compensate users.

Ultimate Extras was one of the features Microsoft cited in the months leading up to the early-2007 release of Windows Vista Ultimate to distinguish it from lower-priced versions. According to Microsoft's marketing, Extras was to regularly provide "cutting-edge programs, innovative services and unique publications" only to Ultimate users.

But users quickly took Microsoft to task for too few add-ons and a too-slow release pace. Five months after Vista's launch, critics began complaining and Microsoft said that it would do better.

Two months later, users again blasted Microsoft as the company's self-imposed deadline for delivering more add-ons came and went without any new downloads. The last time Microsoft delivered Extras was in September 2008, when it released a puzzle game, some sound effects and three screensavers.

Last February, in fact, Microsoft announced that it would drop the concept from Windows 7's Ultimate edition. "Our new approach to planning and building Windows doesn't have the capacity to continue to deliver features outside the regular release cycle," a company spokeswoman said at the time.

Cherry's suggestion that Microsoft give users a free upgrade to Windows 7 would be welcomed by some Ultimate owners. "Like an idiot I purchased Vista Ultimate expecting the 'extras' only Ultimate users would receive," said a Computerworld reader identified as "Garygfd" in a comment on a February story about Extras. "How-freakin'-ever, all I got was useless crap that I wouldn't download anyway. What Microsoft should do is give us Ultimate idiots a big break on Windows 7."

Microsoft has not yet disclosed the pricing for Windows 7's editions, although the company will reportedly offer free or discounted upgrades to users who buy Vista PCs after July 1. According to those reports, people who buy Vista Ultimate after that date will be upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate.

"Pricing is always the last thing for them to decide," Cherry said.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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