Microsoft inadvertently released the pricing structure for its new Windows Vista operating system this week. A move that was quickly retracted from the Canadian arm of Microsoft’s site but not before the new was effectively leaked across the web.

So far the operating system which has been plagued with a number of delays and is presently in the final beta testing stage while the manufacturer wraps up final development on the operating system for a proposed launch in January.

It would appear there is going to be no less than six versions of the operating system coming to the market including one for undeveloped markets (presumably a very stripped back incarnation) as well as two business orientated versions, three versions with a bias for the home markets and a special EU version with the media player removed in order to comply with recent legislation introduced to keep the monopoly markets happy.

According to the listing Windows Vista Ultimate will be shipping at $399 (?210) while the Home version will come to market at $259 (?126). Upgrades for these two version would be priced at $259 (?136) and $159 (?84) for the respective versions.

Of course many people who are in the market for a new PC rarely see these costs outright such is the nature of Microsoft’s relationship with many of the hardware manufacturers and the fact that Windows is bundled with the vast majority of new hardware that comes to market.

However for those that are faced with the upgrade path having too much choice isn’t necessarily going to be a good thing. The individual may buy a version of Vista that suits his or her needs now but as we all know times change and so can our interests. Why not simply give us everything we want and find a price that reflects accordingly.

What you will actually get is open to debate because as is the case with anything that is still in the final throes of development things can be added and taken away. For the machines that will support it the OS will have native 64 bit support and a new front end that replace the slightly creaky appearance of XP. Much has been made of how the boys and girls at Redmond have been peaking their heads over the fence and taking a good long hard look at Apple’s OS X and the influence is clear to see in many of the screenshots that have been publicised on the web already.
Other issues addressed will be the security of the operating system. Long considered a weak point for Microsoft and the obvious choice of system for the virus and malware authors there are promises of a much beefier security system (courtesy of a more robust layered setup which will prevent hostile apps even getting a foothold). Of course a lot of this has been said before and Microsoft has been caught with its pants down (in fairness though, vast market share = obvious relentless targeting of product).

In a bid to play catch up Microsoft have been forced to jettison a good number of features from Vista in a bid to bring it in to land late rather than never. Gone is the vaunted WinFS (apparently a very clever data file and resource management system which would have revolutionised the way the OS searches) that has been put back as something that will be “added later”. This is also the case for EFI support (a replacement for BIOS and an improved way of getting hardware and the OS to “talk”). Powershell (a command line interface, like DOS but MS’s modern take).

It seems that after countless delays we might finally be on the home stretch to see just what the next generation of the Windows desktop is actually going to look like…aren’t we?