Preorders at Amazon reveal prices for Windows XP

Online retailer Inc. has started taking orders early for Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows XP operating system, and in the process has offered a glimpse at how much users will have to pay for the product.

Amazon is offering the Home Edition of Windows XP at US$99.99 for the upgrade version, or $199.99 for the full product. By contrast, Windows Me, the current version of Microsoft's consumer operating system, carries a list price of $109 for the upgrade and $209 for the full version. Amazon is offering those products on sale, for $99.99 and $164.99, respectively.

The forthcoming Windows XP Professional, meanwhile, can be preordered from Amazon for $299.99 for the full version. Windows 2000 Professional, by contrast, carries a list price of $319.99, or $254.99 with Amazon's discount.

Windows XP isn't due to be launched until Oct. 25, and a Microsoft representative said Monday that it won't announce official pricing for the product until closer to that date. The operating system will be the first from Microsoft to incorporate parts of its .Net initiative, including its Passport authentication service, as well as a new media player and instant messaging software. [See "Microsoft readies Windows XP Release Candidate 1," July 2.]The prices touted by Amazon for Windows XP are in line with standard Microsoft pricing, said Rob Enderle, a research fellow with Giga Information Group Inc. "It's pretty much the same price as (Windows) ME," Enderle noted. "The professional version is mapped back to Windows 2000 and NT, which carried the $300 price point."

The pricing won't make much difference to many users who will get their hands on the new operating system by buying it bundled with new PCs. Vendors including Compaq Computer Corp., Dell Computer Corp., Gateway Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) are expected to offer the operating system pre-installed on systems later in the year.

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