The Vista trauma

This morning’s Observer column

Well, the long wait is nearly over. Microsoft’s elephantine parturition has produced an heir. Last week the company distributed ‘Release Candidate 1’ (RC1) of Vista, the new incarnation of Windows, to about 5 million favoured customers. Think of it as the final beta of the software. Microsoft says it is still on course to deliver a version to corporate customers in November, followed by a consumer release to high-street dealers in January.

Microsoft also released details of US pricing for the new operating system. The ‘Home Basic’ version will cost $199. ‘Home Premium’ comes at $239. ‘Vista Business’ is priced at $299. And ‘Vista Ultimate’ weighs in at a whopping $399. Security vulnerabilities come free with all versions. There is also to be a ‘Vista Starter’ edition which will be marketed to people in poor countries in a futile attempt to stop them pirating Vista Ultimate and selling it on the streets of Shanghai, Bangkok and Singapore for a dollar a pop…