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Australian customers will have to stump up almost double the US price for some versions of Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system that arrived in Australian stores yesterday. The company cited taxes, freight costs and currency fluctuations as key reasons that the retail price for full and upgrade versions of its software were substantially higher than in the US."We see the same questions being asked about most consumer electronics products," David McLean, Microsoft's regional director of entertainment and devices, said. "We are priced very similarly to the rest of the category. Is it parity? Probably not. It is a business decision we have made and we think it is equitable in this market." The most basic version of the software will cost $199 to upgrade here compared with $US119 ($129) in the US, but, at the top end of the range, Australian customers must pay $429 to upgrade to the Ultimate version, almost double the $US219.99 ($238) price tag. However Choice spokeswoman Elise Davidson disagreed that these costs could mount up so substantially."Australians don't mind paying a little bit more for reasons such as the size of our market, our large land mass and delivery costs. People understand this and accept it. But when you're looking at almost double the cost of what you can buy in other markets, even taking taxes into account, we are being ripped off."We looked at this with Vista as well and Choice doesn't think this price discrimination is fair for Australian consumers," she said.However Davidson warned that software companies such as Microsoft were able to use technology to stop Australians from getting a better deal by banning international IP addresses and credit card numbers from internet sales.Stephen Baker, a consumer analyst for NPD Group in the US expressed his disapproval in June at the way Microsoft had priced upgrades, given the general level of dissatisfaction with Vista."I am mightily disappointed in a couple of aspects of Microsoft's upgrade plans for non-PC buyers. First is the pricing on the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade. Besides the fact that $US119 is a price point that fits nowhere in these economic times, it is still way too much for the software.