Online Petition asks Blair to pressure Microsoft

An online petition at the 10 Downing Street government "e-petitions" web site started by Paul Milne has requested that the British Prime Minister Tony Blair put pressure on Microsoft for the huge price difference between the UK/US retail version of Windows Vista, specifically the Ultimate version of which an example is given.

The petition reads:

"There is a huge difference in the price that people in the US and the UK are paying for Windows Vista the new Microsoft Operating System. As an example of this, in the UK a full copy of Vista Ultimate would cost you £350, in the US it would cost you £195. The US version of Vista is exactly the same as the UK version. There is no difference. Therefore I can see no reason for there to be such a huge difference in prices between the UK and the US other than Microsofts belief that the UK customers will pay more than their US counterparts. I ask people to sign this petition in the hope that the Prime Minister will bring pressure to bear on Microsoft over their pricing as it is my belief they are simply overcharging the people of the UK and therefore are ripping us off."
At the time of posting, the petition has mustered 182 signatures with a deadline set for April 20th 2007. It has to be noted that Blair emailed an official response to over 1.7 million people just two days ago regarding another petition started on the government website. So who knows how far this can go.

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I'd sign it if I was in the UK.
The prices in Germany are as bad as in Australia, cheapest offer for Ultimate is 452,44€ (Link) including the German Vat (a whopping 19%, just got raised from 16%).
According to the current exchange rate, that's US$594.2347 :blink:

I wish people would stop comparing things directly. Firstly in Australia Vista Ultimate is $750 Australian dollars, which equals $590 US Dollars, vs. the $400US that US residents pay.

Secondly as argued above, this is about Purchasing Power, not direct or indirect comparisons of price. Exchange rates aside, $1US does not buy the same goods and services in every country. In some countries the local equivalent of $1US can buy you a nice dinner, in others it won't even buy you a glass of juice. There there are the issues of taxes, any local additional licensing requirements that may cost more to comply with or test for, and finally, as with all pricing decisions for all products sold around the world - prices are set by what the market can bear. That is, what people are willing to pay. If anyone thinks a Ferrari costs anywhere near $200,000 or $1m to produce, think again. It is simply the price people are willing to pay to own a Ferrari.

Which is why the governments of the world, Europe atleast as we suffer, should stand up for free trade ... we should be able to buy the US versions freely at US price - then the EU versions would have to be priced the same or would loose, we need competition on a global level.

Tony Blair won't care, he'd rather we pay £400 - he gets 17.5% of that to give away in Blair's Benefits to knocked up housewives with a drug addiction, not to mention the bit he uses to go on hollidays while terrorists attempt to kill us.

MS can charge whatever they want, I don't want the people who set our taxes as high as they do, deciding how much Vista should cost - knowing Labour, they'd agree the price should be higher.

What we need is governments to outlaw the free trade barriers, such as Microsoft not allowing US distributors to ship outside the US, that should be illegal ... ofcourse Tony Blair can't much affect US/International policy, but we need governments to stand up for free trade ... when we can freely trade, MS won't charge this much because we won't pay it.

paperless, do we need to go down the road of stupid yanks? I think your road is a lot longer.

It's not only in the UK! As far as I'm concerned, here in Spain the prices are the exact UK prices but converted to Euros.
Windows Vista Home Premium Upgrade retail price is 250 euros. That's roughly 170 british pounds. Amazon UK sells the same version at 134 pounds (I guess the price doesn't include VAT).

Anyway, it's only the UK.

There must be a reason european consumers are being ripped off. Does microsoft have to pay additional taxes or something to "Produce" windows here (in europe) ?

Julius Caro said,
There must be a reason european consumers are being ripped off. Does microsoft have to pay additional taxes or something to "Produce" windows here (in europe) ?

Again, I reference my above post... If it's produced and distributed in Europe and not purchased on the international market, then the price is set based on relative purchasing power.

The relative purchasing power of one pound is almost equivalent to that of the euro and that of the dollar (even though each currency has a different strength on the currency exchange market). That is why the product is nominally the same price (e.g., appx. $370 or £370 or €370 for Ultimate). It's not that $1= £1 = €1; rather, $1 in the US buys the same amount of stuff that £1 buys in the UK, which is the same stuff that €1 buys in the EU.

Microsoft and its distributors are practicing a form of price discrimination that maximizes profits by charging different market sectors different prices, even though it's the same product.

Like it or not, this is perfectly legal and a widespread practice that is pervasive in just about every industry.

I think the purchasing power of UK-ers are higher than Euro. I mean, when I went there, I found everything SO expensive, when compared to spain. And when English come here, they get more than euro with a pound, so they get to buy more things.

I even think that americans can buy more with a dollar than I can with an euro (meaning that they have higher purchase power).

If all the purchasing powers were the same, vista home premium upgrade would be 150 euro (I'm used to the whole 1 euro = 1 dollar after all) instead of 250 euro. (which is at least a 100 euro rip off)

Julius Caro said,
If all the purchasing powers were the same, vista home premium upgrade would be 150 euro (I'm used to the whole 1 euro = 1 dollar after all) instead of 250 euro. (which is at least a 100 euro rip off)

You are correct that there is a discrepancy for continental Europe. Looking at Amazon in the US, Canada, UK and France, I see that the purchasing power theory holds true for US/Canada/UK, but not for France -- where, as you stated, there is an 80-euro increase in nominal price.

Strange indeed!

Tony - Hi Bill, Tony here...
Bill - Oh, Hi Tony, good to hear from you, what's up?
Tony - You know that Vista thingy, would you mind dropping the price a tad? It's just that 500 geeks have signed an online petition.
Bill - Sure, let me see... What country are you President of again?
Tony - Err, Prime Minister of Britain
Bill - Oh yeah, forget. Ah yes I see the problem, looks like a typo in finance.... yep, there we go, I've dropped the price.
Tony - Gee thanks Bill.
Bill - No problemo, now about that 3rd world debt thingy....

You think Bliar gives a toss?

He and his wife most probably have got their hands on freebies like they always do.

Like his wife demanding a Great Britain & Northern Ireland olympic tracksuit for all the family at the last games and expecting it for nothing.

I would not hold your breath.

I already mentioned the huge difference at another forum some time ago.

Well why don't the Brits just buy from online retailers in N.America.

Me thinks I should buy a few boxes of Vista Ultimate from the US and sell on, for £300.00.

But I disagree with the Government meddling in what a corporation can charge a consumer for their product, the UK is suppose a capitalist and democratic nation.

If you want MS too lower the price on Vista, then simply don't buy it, let the physics of supply and demand work itself out, if Vista doesn't sell in the UK , You can bet your shillings MS will lower the price.

BTW what are computer hardware and software prices like in the UK compared to N.America ?

its like people always say, if you want to complain about the product then dont buy it, Windows XP runs 10% faster than Vista anyways, you are only getting spiffy graphic features, and UAC when you get Vista, nothing special about it really.

But you have to figure that they have to ship the product is bulk across sea, and prices for shipping have went up therefore the price of software should as well, we in the US dont pay as much cause we have the source in our backyard, you are paying for the product to come to you halfway around the world, you cant expect that for nothing.

MS is large but they shouldnt be discouraged from making money where they can, if they cant pay for the product, time, and employees then the product cant get better in the future. what if they just gave Windows 95 away for free when it came out, you wouldnt have Vista or XP today.

Sure its alot more money, but its an optional item.

I think most retailers wont sell that kind of software to europe. But I'm not sure..., for example, won't ship vista outside the US.

Geez, at least someone is starting to do something about this... Maybe here in canada we should also do the samething, since it cost us like $499.99cnd and in my area we gotta add on like 14% sale tax, which brings the price up to $570 for the Full OS dvd.. So we are paying like almost $200 more then what the us is....

Rip-off-Britain has been around for a long long time, a better name for it would be rip-off-pound. If we joined the euro there would be much greater price competition on things that can be easily compared in price on the internet, such as software. Remember when people were importing cars from Europe and changing the steering over to save money?

The U.S. is fundamentally cheaper because competition is not stifled by multiple currencies, this is of course not the whole reason though.

Unfortunately people in this country can't deal with change, even a change in the weather gets in the news.

More than 450 now, personally I wish it allowed comments, it doesn't go far enough, more software, and also hardware EXTREME price differences between the 2 countries should be investigated.

It's a shame the recent 'Ban DRM' pettition wasn't publicised enough like this also, it would have had FAR more than the 1,500 signatures it got, and the response to it was pathetic

"enables content companies to offer the consumer unprecedented choice in terms of how they consume content"

ROFL copied straight out of the BPI/RIAA handbook!

Jugalator said,
Translation costs to British English? ;)
I don't believe Microsoft actually translate their software into British English. If I open MS Word (with all settings to British English) on my British English version of XP, the menus still contain americanisations such as summarize. Likewise, IE7 uses Favorites instead of Favourites (Firefox on the other hand gets it right).

Are the differences in the american and english variants of the English language enough to justify making a separate version of software? As a spanish speaking person I've always found localized versions confusing and useless. Mainly because the "standard" language software apps use, it's formal spanish that is common to most, if not all, countries. Microsoft has always used the same spanish version of their software for all the countries. And people is already used to that kind of formality microsoft used when they first translated windows. It's full of arbitrary translations that nowadays every software in spanish uses. Localizing stuff it's making it more confusing !

This conundrum boils down to whether the product is distributed via UK retailers or purchased on the international market:

Consider this: When one goes to the UK, basically everything is nominally the same relative price, just swap the pound sign for the dollar sign. For example, a $90 pair of trainers (runners, sneakers) usually costs around £90; a $18 music CD at Virgin in Times Square is often £18 at Virgin in London; a job that in the US earns $50,000/yr often corresponds to £50,000/yr in the UK. In essence, the cost of living, relative prices and relative purchasing power are essentially equivalent in the two countries.

The difference is when you consider international commerce. If Microsoft distributes and sells the product in UK stores, then they should just swap the pound sign for the dollar sign -- that is, Vista Ultimate, which in the US is about $375, should cost £375 if sold in the UK. Because of the convenience of selling it on their own terra firma (i.e., it's distributed, not imported), then you don't factor-in exchange rates, and therefore it should NOT cost £195 (which is equivalent, on the exchange market, to $375).

If the UK wants to purchase the products DIRECTLY from US companies (e.g., ordering it through a store or e-store like Amazon or CompUSA) and then pay to have it shipped overseas, then yes, they are purchasing things on the international market and should have exchange rates come into play. Therefore, they can convert their £195 into $375 and buy it from a US store, then pay $50 to have it shipped to them in the UK. It might end up being cheaper for them, but a major inconvenience.

[Note: I am excluding for the time being the fact that local UK distributors may be importers of the good from the US, and thus they would purchase the product on the international market, in which exchange rates do apply.]

The REAL debate should surround whether online downloads (not boxed product) are priced the same or not. Obviously, there is no distribution factor here -- everyone downloads, effectively, from the same servers. So the product should cost the same exact amount, with translation of currency according to the exchange rate. Thus, a $375 downloaded (not boxed) copy of Windows Vista Ultimate should also cost $375=£195 for people in the UK.

In any case, it is well known that any company in a capitalistic society is free to practice price discrimination to maximize their profits. This happens all the time, even within the same country to different members of the population. (Consider student pricing on software, or reduced movie ticket prices for senior citizens, or discounts for return customers. Even rebates are a form of price discrimination.) And there's almost always price discrimination between countries -- in the health-care/biotech industry, which is what I work in, there's clearly a price differential for the same exact product if ordered in the US vs. Japan vs. Europe, etc.! So ultimately, if Microsoft decides it wants to charge £375 to UK customers because it fits in better with the relative prices of other goods in the UK, and they figure that the UK can afford it and will purchase it, then thats their prerogative to try to maximize profits.

Sure it sucks, but I don't think they have grounds to sue.

ok i got a fresh calculation uk pricing from tigerdirect

TigerDirect Vista Ultimate = $399.99
Ebuyer Vista Ultimate = £313.54

convert $399.99 = £205.13
add on Uk VAT (17.5%) = £241.02

so we should be paying £241.02 for retail

It's not double. In Australia Vista Ultimate is $750AUD which converted using $0.79 exchange rate = ~$590US vs. $400US in America.

Well the EU can't claim Microsoft's being anti-competitive in it's pricing now can they? Wow, looks like we see who's paying for all the fines the EU imposed, thanks.

Clearly Microsoft is puting the price of the fines back on the customers, how else do you explain the difference?

Yagi said,
Clearly Microsoft is puting the price of the fines back on the customers, how else do you explain the difference?
Greed. MS knows that they can charge more in the UK.

Common sense tells you that clearly MS is not forcing the fines back on their customers. First of all, the fines were a mere pittance... they were so small in comparison of the wealth of MS and GDP of the EU that no one will ever notice. Secondly, the price difference with the US is NOT is consistent in all EU nations.

That's also an approach for the one who don't want to argue for their case, sure, but I personally think that it's important telling what you stand for. We gained a lot of justices that way. I'm also not sure abstaining from Vista would be an at least as good option as trying to get adjusted prices.

The government won't get involved in a petition against a private company's prices.

Channel 5's Gadget Show last week tried to hand a petition in about getting free wireless for everyone and were told this, (they can't tell company's what prices to set) so it's a waste of time signing it.

The European Union thinks it can? As far as making a different version of Vista (the "N" version of XP/Vista) and fining Microsoft for anti-competitive pricing in relation to 3rd party software vendors.

The European Union and the UK government are two different things, in fact they don't much like us 'UKrainians' over there

As far as Blair giving an official response on road pricing - he did a couple of days after they increased the congestion charge zone by nearly double, so that did a lot of good didn't it.

We're overpriced for everything in 'Rip-Off Britain', what makes Vista anything special anyway?

Anti-competitive prices is when you sell something at a very low cost or something (I think the explanation was more complex :P). And this is not the case.

signed, although the petition is a little incorrect, as the price we pay includes VAT, while the US price doesn't include taxes, and our VAT is a lot more than in the US. However, even ignoring VAT, we still pay a hell of a lot more than US customers do.