Microsoft is offering college students a drastically reduced price for its new operating system - Windows 7. The promotional Web site, announces that eligible college students can purchase the OS for $29.99, quoting an estimated retail price of $119.99.  Students can begin advance purchase this month, though download will not be available until the general release date of October 22. The special price offer ends January 3, 2010 at 12:00 am CST. The site is fun and may be informative once all the content is live - there are sections dedicated to videos of an OS tour, the offer beginning and ending dates, as well as a "741 demo trial area" that will be set up at 11 college campuses this fall to document students learning about Windows 7 features. Additionally, user generated content and a section with "exclusive Family Guy content" are coming


To qualify for the discount, you must have an email address with a school domain name. Some schools are even on the MSDNAA list, a global academic program designed for labs, faculty and students in the computer science, engineering and information systems areas. These individuals can get Windows 7 for free.

The FAQ page advises students on the versions available for download, as well as the different processes for upgrading from Vista and XP. When choosing between 32- or 64-bit software, recommends keeping the same rate that your machine is currently running.

As for the upgrade process, it is decidedly simpler to do so from Vista. With XP, upgrading is "an involved process." There is also a Windows Upgrade Advisor that you should run before purchasing Windows 7. Depending on your system and OS, you may be able to perform an "in-place upgrade" which migrates your data to the new system, or you may have to do a custom install - a clean install, which means that you have to back everything up beforehand. The site also recommends purchasing the hard copy of the upgrade disc if you must do the custom install.