It's a milestone in computing history: for the first time, you don't have to operate your legs (tm) and bother with connecting sneakers-to-pavement in order to get a copy of Windows. Vista will be 100% available as a download.
Microsoft has announced that at the same time as retail availability of Vista, it will be offering 100% electronic download of the DVD as well.
According to the software giant, Vista will be downloadable via a Microsoft "digital locker" from 30th January.
"Windows Marketplace uses a technology called digital locker, which securely stores both the software itself and its related license keys," said Microsoft Program Manager Nick White in a blog post.
"Digital locker also has intelligence to know when a download has been interrupted so that it can resume automatically once the connection is reinstated."
White said that when 30th January rolls around, people should go to this page
to buy and download their copy of Vista. Interestingly, though, it says "coming soon - 29.01.07" which indicates that Microsoft might be taking the Australia/New Zealand timezone as its gold standard for a "30th January" release, giving people elsewhere in the world early access to digital downloads: something retailers might not be happy about.
The digital download strategy could have some benefits for consumers: for a start, you won't have to rely on having the installation disc handy, if the download is sitting there in your digital locker, and you have reasonably fast broadband. Where computer users may once have preferred the reliability of a pressed DVD, they may now prefer to have the security of knowing they can always download another copy of the DVD if they need to from Microsoft.
There won't be any discount for foregoing the box and physical media though: Microsoft says the downloads will only be available at "suggested retail prices".
Microsoft said it would also provide Office 2007 for digital download.
APC has put the following questions to Microsoft Australia, but they've had to be sent off to the US for response:
- How many times will people be able to re-download the Vista ISO over time?
- How do people burn the Vista DVD to disc, if they're not familiar with ISO burning tools (or only have the stuff that comes built in to Windows?)
- How long will the software remain in their 'digital locker' for before it is no longer able to be downloaded?
- Does Microsoft aim to make 'digital locker' a totally equivalent or better experience than buying the software on physical media?
- Will there be any discount available for downloading the software rather than buying the boxed copy?
Microsoft offers family discounts on Vista