Amazon.com now shows Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT)RED upgrade available for preorder, with a December 15 ship date, but there are several oddities on the product page, including the product's name being wrong. Microsoft's (PRODUCT)RED site says that students are eligible to purchase the upgrade, but makes no mention of it otherwise being available.
(PRODUCT)RED is a program where products with the (PRODUCT)RED branding are sold and a portion of the proceeds goes to benefit a charity that fights diseases. Other products with the brand include (PRODUCT)RED Apple iPods and Starbucks beverages. The (PRODUCT)RED edition of Vista has been available bundled with Dell PCs since January, but not on its own. The only differences between (PRODUCT)RED and the standard Vista Ultimate are the additions of a screen saver, a DreamScene, sidebar gadgets and wallpapers with the (PRODUCT)RED theme.
The (PRODUCT)RED site doesn't seem to acknowledge the upcoming release. It's page about the product says this:
We've taken Windows Vista Ultimate to the power of (RED) and made it available on the Dell (PRODUCT)RED desktop and laptops. Now college students who want to make an impact while upgrading their PC can download Windows Vista Ultimate (PRODUCT)RED from www.theultimatesteal.com at an exclusive discount price, and Windows will contribute $10 to the Global Fund to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.
Microsoft's site mentions the option for students but otherwise only discusses the edition bundled with Dell computers. The (PRODUCT)RED edition doesn't show up in searches on retailer sites such as Best Buy, Circuit City, or Newegg.com.
The Amazon product page says "Windows Vista Ultimate with SP1 Upgrade (Project Red Edition)" instead of (PRODUCT)RED edition. The naming indicates it's only the upgrade for Vista from previous Windows versions, but it's priced at $219.95. The non-Red edition upgrade goes for $149.99, and according to (PRODUCT)RED's FAQs, (PRODUCT)RED branded products aren't supposed to cost more than non-Red versions.
It's possible that the PRODUCT(RED) upgrade will ship December 15 and there are simply mistakes on the Amazon page and Microsoft and PRODUCT(RED) haven't updated their sites. In that case, anyone thinking about asking Santa for a Vista upgrade for Christmas has an option that aims to help charity.