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The Almighty Buck Upgrades Windows News Technology

Hidden Fees Discovered For "Free" Windows 7 Upgrade 406

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the nothing-is-free dept.
An anonymous reader writes 'Thousands of recent computer purchasers who are expecting to receive free upgrades to Windows 7 when it is released on October 22 may be surprised to learn that some big computer makers are quietly tacking on hefty processing fees as high as $17 to mail out those disks to some buyers.' How about they process $0 to click a link and download a file?
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Hidden Fees Discovered For "Free" Windows 7 Upgrade

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  • by Fittysix (191672) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:57AM (#29643151)

    The RTM of windows 7 has been out for 2 months now? 3 by the street date of Oct 22nd.
    This time is of course used for manufacturing, marketing, etc.
    Meanwhile they should be offering fully updated ISOs directly on the windows site for everyone and anyone to download - the OS itself contains its own validation so there's no harm in letting anyone download it. Then you buy your key digitally with a steam-like system, this would even benefit Microsoft by serving as a key registration system.

    • by von_rick (944421)
      Exactly. I don't know of anyone who actually purchased boxed copied of Windows, except at universities where it's about 1/10th the actual cost. All the flavoursof Win 7 should be directly available for download once you've got your verification code after the payment.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by VernonNemitz (581327)
        Time to get the torrents ready....
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        They still might charge you a handling charge. If you look at this week's Staples flyer, they put their Vista PCs on clearance, with a free upgrade to Windows 7..... but then the fine print says you have to pay shipping and handling to get it. Great.

        Staples is not an honest company. I recently bought some printer paper from them minus a $25 mail-in rebate. They never bothered to tell me that it's on a credit card and therefore I have to spend the money - I can't just cash it and put it in my savings lik

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by argosreality (923829)
          Not an honest company? Take it you didn't bother to actually read the rebate offer or the price tag which both make mention of it being a visa debit card? That has nothing to do with dishonesty but rather being too lazy to read what you are in essence agreeing to. Are rebate cards a crappy deal? Yes, just the same as rebates in general are.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by hairyfeet (841228)

            Well, I don't know about his experience, but I can say that at my local Staples they will not let ANYONE but their friends have the Black Friday laptops. I watched them lie to everyone's faces and say they were gone until their friends made it to the front of the line and then they handed them over. Those that had been waiting in line for hours complained to the manager and basically got "too fucking bad".

            I only showed up 20 minutes before opening for the cheap hard drives and RAM so it didn't affect me,

        • by Carnivore (103106) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:02AM (#29643749)

          Can't you just put $25 from your checking account in savings and use the credit card to buy groceries? I hate the MIR dance as much as anyone does, but you win if you get the rebate.

        • I suggest you look up the word "fungible".

      • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:42AM (#29643561) Journal

        and it's not like they don't have the resources in place already. my company has an agreement with MS that allowed me to purchase - legaly - a copy of office 2007 enterprise for R$ 26.00 ( that's $ 15.00 american bucks), download an instalable .EXE and run it. it's now working under wine on my personal notebook.

        at the company, for business use, we have access to ALL microsoft software products free. all available for download as instalable .MSI, .EXE or burnable .ISO

        this handling fees, this is plain old greed IMHO.

        one more way that shows how apple handles this much better. you can buy snow leopard upgrade for a few bucks, then install it on top of tiger. tiger users are not eligible for the cheap upgrade, only leopard users are. but apple didn't put any verification on the upgrade. they just trust tiger users will do the right thing and buy the full package. wanna bet it's paying off ?

      • by tepples (727027)

        I don't know of anyone who actually purchased boxed copied of Windows

        How do Mac owners who use Boot Camp or Parallels ordinarily get their genuine copies of Windows?

        • With the OEM copy that came with the computer they quit using when they bought the mac. They may be not quite 'legal' due to OEM licensing restrictions, but they are genuine.

      • I did buy a boxed copy of Windows 7 Pro Upgrade for me, and Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade for my son at half price during the upgrade sale before July 11th. I preordered and have to wait until October 22nd.

        But it looks like I'll have to wait until I can afford to upgrade the RAM, and my son's TI Wireless card does not have Windows 7 support as far as I know, so I might have to buy him a new wireless card.

    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:36AM (#29643531)

      I think that exposes the truth of copyrights to consumers a bit too clearly for corporate comfort.

      Windows has traditionally been about receiving the product. You go to the store, give them that ungodly sum that they charge, and then come home with your shiny box and DVD. Now, online distribution is coming up, and Microsoft likely will go that way, but allowing them access to the whole thing before buying a key puts the issue into the spotlight too much. They've already downloaded the system for free, and now they'd be paying several hundred dollars for a code to unlock it. At that point even the simplest minded consumer will put together that all they really paid for was that key and the other stuff costs really nothing (which has always been the case, but it's not been so obvious).

      If Microsoft only allows a download after paying the fee then there's still some level of abstraction. IE, the consumer feels like they're buying at least a big file.

      Just my take on the issue anyways.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        You go to the store, give them that ungodly sum that they charge, and then come home with your shiny box and DVD.

        Seriously, what is UNGODLY about what they charge for their product? You spend more in a MONTH on cable TV than what it costs to buy Vista Super Premium. And don't give me the "It's expensive because it doesn't work" BS. If it doesn't work, don't buy it.

        Personally, I run one of each (Win,Mac,Ubuntu) at my house, and i have no problem with the cost i need to pay for Windows or mac. Different tools for different uses.

      • by rhsanborn (773855) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:39AM (#29644141)
        Yes, you're right, the manufacturing cost of a "Key" is miniscule. Guess what, it's just like the cost of building a car. You don't think it costs 20,000 dollars in materials and labor to build a car, do you? Aren't you completely indignant that you had to pay that much? The nerve of car companies covering design and R&D costs and they expect to cover the costs of marketing their product in the sales price!? Well, that's outrageous!

        Every product has hidden costs embedded into the price. In Microsofts case, it's dev time and marketing, and yes, a profit too. If you don't think the dev time yielded a high enough quality product, or a product you're interested in, by all means, go buy a Mac or download *nix. But, just because it costs next to nothing to create "keys" doesn't mean there weren't some very real expenses in delivering this product that need to be recouped.
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:14AM (#29643869)

      That's actually how MS does its student offers, at least in the UK. They sell you a licence key for £30, disks for about £10 if you want them, and give you a link to a .iso file or an installer.

    • by Ilgaz (86384) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:41AM (#29644167) Homepage

      Both MS and Apple won't do it since it makes software retailers (dealers) obsolete. Not like they don't have bandwidth or technology to do it, Apple sells petabytes of content every week or so over the net.

      In Apple case, they want their country distributors sell it, localized in some cases (like .TR) and with the real prices which translates 1$=1Euro. MS has a way more localized way of doing things, for them, Windows is released in a country when their distributor packs a local language DVD and puts on shelves.

      Of course, I hate these old fashion things which only helps DVD plastic manufacturers as much as you do but it is not piracy or anything both are afraid from. In Apple's case, they could even release .ISO without DRM and they would trust their customer base who would still buy the legal one. That customer base is one thing MS can only dream about.

  • by InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:57AM (#29643153)
    Similar to paying $9.99 for going from Leopard to Snow Leopard (if you bought a Mac with Leopard recently).

    It's annoying but it's not hefty.

    And in this (Win7) case the price seems to be a manufacturer thing and not a MS thing. Ranging from $0 to $17.
    • by gbarules2999 (1440265) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:10AM (#29643281)
      I agree. On the dial-up our neighbors have next door, it would take a good month to download Windows 7. I may be a biased Linux user at times, but blasting Microsoft for the OEMs that are sending out DVD's seems a bit backwards. Perhaps that price is a bit high, but hey, look on the bright side - an OEM is giving you a disc of Windows for once, and they're not charging full price for it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rogerborg (306625)

        blasting Microsoft

        Can you find "Microsoft" anywhere in the title or synopsis? A shiny gold dubloon the the first person who can do that.

        • You arrived too late and missed a few trolls.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "Thousands of recent coMputer purchasers who are expectIng to reCeive free upgRades tO WindowS 7 when it is released On October 22 may be surprised to learn that some big computer makers are quietly tacking on heFTty processing fees as high as $17 to mail out those disks to some buyers"

          Where's my dubloon?

        • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday October 05, 2009 @10:09AM (#29644549) Journal

          Can you find "Microsoft" anywhere in the title or synopsis? A shiny gold dubloon the the first person who can do that.

          Actually, it is DEFINITELY implied. Windows 7 is a Microsoft product, and probably a registered (TM) of Microsoft Corporation or one of its subsidiaries.

          It isn't Pella Windows 7, it is Microsoft Windows 7 (TM).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      Nope, nothing like it. More like paying your neighbor's kid to go to the store and buy the upgrade disk. Only the store promised it would be free, so you're just paying the middleman.

      Why should a middleman profit by selling you something prematurely, making it your responsibility to purchase and install the software at a later date? That's your time and money, for a free upgrade. I understand the part about installing it yourself - if you don't want to do that, then delay your purchase. But paying any

    • Now I get the bit that as someone else rips you off for a similar amount then its standard practice, but not hefty?

      People out there sell games for $5 and that is to get something new. $9.99 or $17 is a rip-off as there is clear margin in the work.

      1) The DVD printing is already done
      2) These guys should have an automated warehouse for shipping
      3) That means the only element is shipping cost

      Remember that Media costs et al should be excluded as this is a "free" upgrade so its just the processing costs that you

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:20AM (#29643405) Journal

      Yeah except Microsoft and the stores are saying Win7 is a free upgrade. Misleading and deceptive. Like when I visited a car dealer and "won" an 1 gigabyte MP4 player for "free". Yeah the actual item may have been technically free, but the S&H cost $30 so basically I paid for it.

      I returned it and now I'm going after paypal to get a refund, since the battery only lasted 15 minutes. What good is that?

    • by kenh (9056)
      Exactly. Because MS is involved, they get the blame, despite the Mfg. being the one charging the "fee" (called S/H in most cases, I assume. I happily paid $9.99 for my Snow Leopard update, and didn't notice /. having a fit about that fee... Odd.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:58AM (#29643169)

    When I mentioned this to my office colleague, he said $17 was a quite a bargain if that's what it takes to it makes Vista go away.

    • Oh, and hey, if you have an email address ending in .edu, you can get another copy [win741.com] of Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Professional for $30!

      Or your first copy if you didn't just buy a PC.

      • For many university users - including me, if I cared - Windows 7 will be available as a free download from Microsoft. As have been Vista, XP, and 2000 before.

        Microsoft makes a staggering amount of software available for free to academic users.

  • by Xest (935314) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:59AM (#29643173)

    Because of course the infrastructure to serve 3gb of data to each customer doesn't cost anything?

    Not that I'm defending the practice of charging for a free upgrade, free upgrades should be free, postage free too, but suggesting doing it digitally means there would be no cost is ignorant. In the UK with the extortionate costs of bandwidth I think posting a CD first class via Royal Mail might in fact be cheaper.

    A lot of people would just want to stick the Windows 7 DVD they receieve through the post in the drive too. Downloading an ISO and knowing how to burn an ISO rather than copying the file across like they do usually when writing CDs (if they've ever even written one before) would be too much for some users.

    • by von_rick (944421) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:09AM (#29643279) Homepage
      If you're getting your DVD in your post box for free, that's a different matter altogether. But if you have to pay $17 for that shiny object, giving a download option and not charging anything for it seems like a better option.
      • by GaryOlson (737642) <slashdot.garyolson@org> on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:33AM (#29643519) Journal
        OK, let me summarize what Xest [slashdot.org] said in a different manner:

        --If you are not of the computer literate and want to upgrade to Windows 7, the $17 shiny thing seems like a bargain.

        --If you are of the computer literate and don't know a method for downloading the Windows 7 iso, turn in your Slashdot ID; you are banished.

        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Actually, I think he was saying that they would be more likely to snail-mail ship you the CD for free, rather than allow you to download it for free, because snail-mail shipping is cheaper than the requisite bandwidth.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by thue (121682)

      It definitively does not cost $17 to server 3 gluon-bits (gb) to a customer. Neither does it cost much to serve 3 GiB to a customer.

      And if bandwidth is that much of a problem then serve it over a password-protected bittorrent. Or non-protected bittorrent, relying on the windows key for security.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      Downloading costs you £10 for 3GB? You must live in a really horrible place, because I've been complaining about my £60/mo ISP even though I could download that in under an hour...

      • by Xest (935314)

        No, that's not what I was saying. I was saying it's pointless them setting up a download infrastructure and not charging you for it because if they were going down the not charging route they could do it cheaper by snail mail due to bandwidth costs.

        A 1st class stamp in the UK is 36p, 3gb of bandwidth on an ISP like PlusNet outside your allowance would cost be £2.61. Of course inside my allowance you could argue it's cost me nothing, but at £19.99 a month I'd disagree- I'm still paying for that b

        • 3gb of bandwidth on an ISP like PlusNet outside your allowance would cost be £2.61. Of course inside my allowance you could argue it's cost me nothing, but at £19.99 a month I'd disagree- I'm still paying for that bandwidth.

          That's your cost to download it. You can't compare it to the cost of a stamp, which is the cost to actually ship it to you.

          The cost to set up and maintain the infrastructure to actually serve the file to you is unrelated to the cost your ISP charges you to download it (and probably much lower on a per-user average than £2.61).

  • hidden? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by martas (1439879)
    i never quite understood how fees can be hidden... do they sneak into your apartment and take the CA$H hidden by the XYZ fairy under your pillow, or something?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)


      i never quite understood how fees can be hidden... do they sneak into your apartment and take the CA$H hidden by the XYZ fairy under your pillow, or something?

      Generally if it wasn't mentioned in the literature provided or it was only in the small print, then its is considered 'hidden' since you had to look for it to find out.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

        Or if the retailer says "Qualifies for a FREE upgrade to Windows 7", that's a hidden fee. The cost is $0 and if you have sales tax, the tax is on $0 (as opposed to a gift like on The Price Is Right where the receiving party is responsible for sales taxes and/or licenses).

        • Another example of a hidden fee is when you consolidate your 2 bank accounts into 1 bank account, and ask the manager to close the empty one, but instead he leaves it open...... so when you get your monthly statement, you discover not only is your "closed" account still open, but you've been charged a $10 fee for being under the minimum balance. Grrr. Funny how the manager never mentioned that hidden fee when I was talking to him.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jours (663228)

        Looking at HP's press release (for example), it's not all that hidden.

        http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2009/090625xa.html/ [hp.com]

        The program will enable customers who purchase qualifying HP PCs to enjoy the benefits of a new Windows-based PC immediately and receive a free(1) upgrade to Windows 7 when it becomes available in October...

        (1) Shipping and handling fees may apply depending on retailer/reseller.

    • Not exactly. It's like this: Distributor sells a product and says it comes with an upgrade once it is done. Normally you would expect that the price for shipping, etc. is already calculated within the original sales price and one day a packet arrives with no additional hassle or cost.

      Adding shipping costs afterwards without explicitly mentioning it (no, page 83 of the small-print is not explicit) is simply ripoff.

  • i can imagine all the calls to Dell. i burned the iso to a dvd and it still won't boot

    • HELP! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How to burn the ISO?

      I burned three already. The wife's cat is charred and my fingers have bad blisters.

      And I still cannot upgrade after three reboots!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noundi (1044080)

      i can imagine all the calls to Dell. i burned the iso to a dvd and it still won't boot

      Then they should provide an executable binary which upon execution upgrades. No need for an iso.

  • Since I don't have Vista, does that mean I don't have the privilege of paying for that fee?

  • Is this news? (Score:4, Informative)

    by codeguy007 (179016) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:05AM (#29643241)

    I am sure I read when they announced that the free upgrade doesn't include shipping. Also the Vista upgrade, I got with my laptop didn't include shipping. Maybe the manufacturers and sales reps aren't being clear, I don't know. I do know when I was talking to my sister about free upgrade when she purchased her new computer, I definitely told her she would need to pay the shipping.

  • Oh nos! (Score:5, Funny)

    by goldmaneye (1374027) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:12AM (#29643303)
    Not the dreaded upgrad fees! Those sound expensive!
  • by slasher999 (513533) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:12AM (#29643305)

    I don't get in today's age of informed individuals how people still think digital distribution is "free". Maybe your personal site is dirt cheap, but larger companies that use a ton of bandwidth pay a fortune for that bandwidth and the management and guarantees that go along with it. I work for a small company that doesn't have a large website and we do nothing like digital dist, but our bandwidth still costs over $2m per year. I agree downloads vs sending disks would be cheaper, but saying it would be free is just plain ignorant.

    • by imsabbel (611519)

      Yeah, true.
      In fact, if i look at the bulk rates, its about the same price to mass produce and bulk-mail DVDs than to offer them to download.

      Still, both prices are well below this processing fees...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Bandwidth is still relatively cheap. 1TB costs from $35-80 depending on the service provider, higher requirements come with cheaper rates. Even "cloud" services are pretty cheap, Amazon was about $170-250 for 1TB that last time I looked. If your bill really is $2,000,000 a year, you should investigate your network as stop employess from running torrents 24/7.

    • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:05AM (#29643787) Homepage

      If you are paying $2million/year for the bandwidth of a small company that doesn't have a large web site and doesn't do digital distribution, you're overpaying by a whole lot.

      It sounds like:
      A. you're getting majorly ripped off
      B. your company claiming to be spending $2m/year but in fact paying a lot less and pocketing the rest of the money
      C. all the computers in your company are a zombies spamming 2 million emails per day and performing dos attacks
      D. your employees are undercover couriers for 0day warez scene
      E. you're an idiot who really doesn't know anything and you make up nonsense

      http://gigaom.com/2008/10/07/wholesale-internet-bandwidth-prices-keep-falling/ [gigaom.com]

    • by magarity (164372)

      And it's not just posters on /. - a guy from Wired wrote a whole book on this misconception. The funny part is that his ebook is for sale on Kindle.

    • At least they could throw a torrent out there...
      Ok, I think I'll grab me coat now....
  • Open source projects can charge reasonable fees for distribution of source code. Why are these any different?

  • If the fee was stated *plainly* and the customer factored the fee into their decision, then fine. If instead businesses understand that people won't buy a new computer because they don't want Vista, and they entice customers with a FREE upgrade to Windows 7, then it HAD BETTER BE FREE. It doesn't matter if $17 doesn't break the bank. Even $0.01 is too much if I was coerced into a buying decision by a vendor who was withholding information. DISTRIBUTION COST IS IRRELEVANT. It doesn't matter if it costs money
  • Heft? (Score:5, Funny)

    by revxul (463513) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:13AM (#29643323)

    While not the free promised, the terms hefty and $17 haven't been used together since the 1930s.

  • by dracphelan (916527) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:16AM (#29643355)
    I recently purchased an Acer laptop (hey, it was cheap and I'm just using it for surfing). Since I didn't choose overnight shipping, it was free. I may not get the DVD for a week or so. But, I'm not in a hurry either. I think this really depends on the shipping you choose and the manufacturer you buy from.
  • News: Hidden Fees Discovered For "Free" Windows 7 Upgrad

    You dropped an 'e'....Hey is that you: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1390085&cid=29617177 [slashdot.org] ?!

  • I don't see why it would be so difficult to have a website where you can buy Windows 7; download it as a customised ISO wrapped into a CD-burner program for the OS of choice, and burn it yourself complete with auto-generated serial.

    Just my 2c.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Vamman (1156411)
      You realize most people don't even know what an ISO is right? Microsoft is faced with the same situation our company is faced with right now releasing a large product to the internet and making it as less complicated as possible for the village idiots.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)

      I don't see why it would be so difficult to have a website where you can buy Windows 7; download it as a customised ISO wrapped into a CD-burner program

      The DVD that arrives by post will be stamped not burned.

      You'll have what the geek always claims he wants - a staple, permanent, back-up copy of your initial install.

  • i bought a laptop from acer this summer thinking i would get the windows 7 upgrade, but mine was one of the ones that were unsupported as I guess they discontinued it at the same time. Strangely some other people with the same model were seemingly granted the upgrade. It kind of sucks that I'll have to pay $100 or so to keep using windows 7. I'm kind of hoping that microsoft gives another round of cheap upgrades out again, otherwise. I don't think I could ever go back to vista, and now that really isn't an

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