updated 9/5/2006 12:44:45 PM ET 2006-09-05T16:44:45

Microsoft Corp. said Tuesday its Windows Vista operating system will cost the same as comparable editions of Windows XP, the current system.

The company priced the consumer edition of the new operating system, Windows Vista Home Basic, at $199. For consumers already running Windows XP, upgrades will cost $99.95.

But Microsoft hopes most consumers will opt to spend $239 for Windows Vista Home Premium, which offers entertainment capabilities such as the ability to record live television and connect to Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console.

Windows Vista Business, geared toward use at work, will cost $299; the company set the price for upgrades at $199.

The company will also release an Ultimate version of the operating system, which combines the entertainment add-ons of Premium with business features, for $399.

Vista, the company's first new operating system in five years, touts a sleeker look, improved security features, better protection against spyware and viruses and more intuitive search tools to help users find saved files.

Microsoft also said Tuesday it will make the most recent test version of the operating system, release candidate 1, available to 5 million customers worldwide this week, and will open enrollment into the its customer preview program in the coming days. The company released the near-final version of the much-delayed operating system to a select group of technical experts for testing last Friday.

Microsoft will decide whether to release another test version of Vista based on feedback from this round of user testing.

Vista is slated for delivery to businesses in November and to consumers in January, but Microsoft has said it would delay the release further if serious problems arose.

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