Microsoft wants to make sure consumers and small businesses know there are myriad ways they can acquire Windows Vista -- particularly in premium versions -- when it becomes generally available on Jan. 30. On Thursday, Microsoft said that for the first time, users will be able to purchase its Windows OS by downloading it over the Internet. On Jan. 30, various consumer versions of Windows Vista, such as Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Home Premium, and Windows Vista Ultimate, will be available on Microsoft's Windows Marketplace e-commerce site, said Bill Mannion, director of marketing for Windows. Microsoft Office 2007 also will be available on Windows Marketplace, marking the first time customers can purchase the productivity suite by downloading it.
Microsoft has sold games, some of its less popular applications, and partner software on Windows Marketplace, but it previously has not sold its core Windows and Office products there, Mannion said. The company revamped the site in August, adding a new feature called Digital Locker, which keeps track of a customer's license key online so that software can be downloaded and securely purchased over the Internet. This feature is one of the reasons Microsoft now feels it is safe enough to distribute Windows Vista and Office over the Internet, he said. Microsoft also will make clear on Thursday it's pushing hard for consumers to buy the premium versions of Vista -- Home Premium and Ultimate.