Newegg today became the first retailer to announce Windows 7's OEM pricing. An OEM upgrade is slightly cheaper than a traditional upgrade, and a good option for users who didn't preorder and can't get a student discount.
Users can use the OEM edition to get a big discount on Windows 7

Things were looking good when Microsoft announced its default Windows 7 pricing, which was lower than the prices of the previous Windows edition, Vista.  With that announcement came news of a pre-order program which sold Home Premium upgrade licenses for only $49.99, less than normal price of $119.99 (a pre-order of Windows 7 Professional, upgrade, similar dropped the price from $199.99 to $99.99).  For some of those eager to get their hands on Windows 7 the news got even better when Microsoft announced it would be offering a single Home Premium or Professional license to college students for $29.99, nearly the same price as Apple's Snow Leopard OS.

Now OEM prices have been unveiled by online retailer  Newegg says it will be offering Windows 7 Home Premium for $99.99, less than the suggested full (not upgrade) Home Premium license price of $199.99, and less than even the $119.99 suggested upgrade license price.  OEM Professional and Ultimate licenses will be priced at $134.99 and $174.99, respectively.

Typically, Microsoft has offered OEM licenses as a means for computer builders to upgrade to the latest version of Windows.  With the advent of online retailers, though, its been increasingly easy for everyday users to purchase OEM licenses -- and there's nothing technically preventing them from doing so.

Those looking to take the OEM route for a cheap upgrade must consider a handful of downsides.  First, the install will wipe out any data on your hard drive, unlike the Upgrade edition, so its important you back your data up beforehand.  Also, you are not permitted to transfer the license from one machine to another.  Microsoft also offers no support for its OEM licenses, so be prepared to be scouring online resources if you have problems.

In comparison to Windows Vista OEM, Windows 7's OEM prices are ever-so-slightly cheaper, with Home Premium being identical to Vista, and the Professional and Ultimate editions coming in at $5 cheaper than their Vista counterparts.

Newegg says that it is currently taking pre-orders on the OS.  The pre-order program will run until October 20.  Two days later, on October 22, Windows 7 will be officially released and start shipping.

For those looking to upgrade their computers, the student discount program remains the cheapest option.  The expired pre-order program was the second cheapest option, and now a third option -- an OEM edition -- provides a slightly more expensive alternative to those who missed the pre-order and can't get a student discount.

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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