Robert McLaws: Windows Edition

Blogging about Windows since before Vista became a bad word

The True Cost of Windows, Part 1 - Evidence

You didn't think I'd go though all this without some rock-solid data, would you?

Basic Home SKUs

Below is the breakdown of the Windows pricing for the entry-level editions.

IMPORTANT: Here's how the table should be interpreted. The first two columns are the MSRPs listed in the press releases. The second two columns are the prices adjusted for inflation in today's dollars. The final two columns are the adjusted prices in relation to Vista. For example, the table lists the retail difference of Windows 1.0 at -$16.54, meaning that "If I bought Windows 1.0 today, it would be is sixteen dollars cheaper than Vista Home Basic." Ergo, if the number is positive, the release is more expensive than the comparable Vista SKU.

Tables are great, but a picture is worth a thousand words.

The light blue & green lines represent the MSRP as announced in the press releases for full retail and upgrade copies, respectively. The darker versions of the same color represent those prices adjusted for inflation in today's dollars. The line adjusted line starts moving to meet the Vista launch price because… well, today's dollars equal today's dollars. And there's no data for Upgrade versions before 1987, well, because you can't upgrade from nothing.

Advanced Home SKUs

Below is the breakdown of the Windows pricing for the midrange editions.

Comparing Windows pricing for the midrange consumer editions was a lot more difficult, namely because there hasn't been a midrange consumer edition for 20 years. The only one prior to that was Windows/386, which was released at the same time as Windows 2.0, and was designed to take advantage of the newer (and considerably more expensive) 80386 processors. For the honor of being the coolest geek in town, you had to throw down twice the cost of Windows 2.0, at $195. Ouch.

I didn't chart this one because I couldn't do a meaningful chart that looked the same as the first one. Historical averages didn't make much sense either.

Professional SKUs

Below is the breakdown of the Windows pricing for the high-end versions.

Unfortunately, the chart for the Pro SKUs is not much more interesting than the Advanced Home SKUs were, so I'm going to omit that chart as well. Maybe after Windows 7 is released, this data will get more interesting.

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