Windows Vista hits the Internet

Redmond (WA) - Windows Vista is scheduled for official launch tomorrow. Several online stores, however, have made the operating system available for order over the weekend and promise to deliver the Vista package by tomorrow. There's even a fancy Bill Gates edition of the software for the collector crowd.

Most online stores currently list Windows Vista for pre-order or back-order, staying in line with Microsoft's January 30 launch date. But users who do not want to wait and need to order the software online, there are numerous options to purchase the operating system today and have the software on your doorstep tomorrow.

Among the more visible stores that already have dropped the pre-order button is office supply chain Staples, which offers Vista for suggested retail prices. While retail locations will not have the software on their shelves until tomorrow, we were told that the online store has begun shipping Vista already.

Online pricing of Windows Vista largely follows Microsoft's suggested retail pricing, but comparing multiple stores can save you some money. Shopping tools such as and Froogle reveal that merchants already have begun competing for customers, offering discounts of up to 10% for the lower end versions Vista. High-end versions such as Vista Ultimate are available with discounts in the range of $5 to $10. Students also should have a closer look at the price tag as student versions of Vista are offered for steep discounts. For example, the $160 Vista Premium upgrade is available for about $85 and the $400 Vista Ultimate (full version) sells for around $210.

On the higher end, Microsoft is selling a Bill Gates-signed, limited edition of Windows Vista Ultimate: The Microsoft co-founder's signature is placed on the front of 20,000 black Ultimate boxes and most retailers that claim to have this version in stock are selling it for the price of the regular Ultimate upgrade ($260). An exception is CompUSA which charges $290 for this Vista version.

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