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Microsoft's Windows 7 pretzel takes fresh twist

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Microsoft's tortured stance on Windows 7 in Europe continues, with the company circling back on packaging and pricing.

Having killed the planned Windows 7 E spoiler edition it unveiled for Europe, Microsoft's announced packaging and pricing in line with other worldwide markets.

Windows 7 E was the version of Microsoft's planned operating system it devised, and then strangled ahead of birth, that would have shipped without Internet Explorer 8.

The idea was, according to Microsoft, that doing so would let it stay within European Union anti-trust law.

However, PC-buying customers in EU countries would only have been eligible for new copies of Windows 7 E and would not have been able to buy upgrade versions from Windows Vista.

On Monday, though, Microsoft said pricing, upgrades, and the planned Family Pack would all be made available in EU countries as per other markets.

That means that customers in the UK and other EU states can place pre-orders for the upgrade edition of Windows 7 from September 1 on, at the price announced in June of £79.99. That price was announced after Microsoft said it would ship Windows 7 E.

Also, Microsoft said customers could get full copies of Windows 7 - not upgrade editions that rely on the fact that you have Windows Vista or XP on your machine - at that upgrade price. The price of Windows 7 Home Premium, for example, is £149.99 new.

It's not entirely clear why Microsoft couldn't have made the offer of full copies of Windows 7 at upgrade prices before Monday's announcement.

This offer runs from today until next Monday, August 31.

If you want to upgrade from Windows Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium between September 1 and December 31 you can get the upgrade at £79.99.

If you already pre-ordered the full version of Windows 7 E in the EU as part of special pre-order offers or some other offer - you will get a full version of Windows 7. ®

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