Microsoft's Windows 7 could be far cheaper in the UK than across the Atlantic, according to prices quoted by retail sites for pre-order copies of the operating system.

The boxed version of the software can be bought from Amazon.co.uk for as little as £64.98 for the Home Premium edition, £149.98 for Professional version and £168.98 for Ultimate. Play.com is offering Home Premium for £75, but with free delivery.

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In a stark reversal of usual pricing policies, the US price appears to be almost double that of the same software on British shelves. The US version of Amazon lists the Home Premium Edition for $199.99, which at today’s exchange rate equates to £121.

The Amazon.co.uk site does however show the recommended retail price as £149.99, and says it is offering a 57% discount. A spokesperson for the store called the price "indefinite" suggesting it may shoot up again.

Microsoft was unable to comment on the pricing, or whether it had chosen to extend the introductory offer which saw it slash the cost of Home Premium and Professional by a third on promotional copies which were sold on a "first come, first served basis while stocks last".

Those copies were sold out within a few days, launching the cost of Home Premium up to £80 on Amazon.