Microsoft is hoping to establish its new operating system with the academic crowd.

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is offering the Home Premium version of its new Windows 7 operating system to college students for just $30. The OS usually sells for $119.

In order to qualify, students must enter their college or university e-mail address into a special Web site that Microsoft has established in partnership with distributor Digital River for the promotion.

Microsoft said it also may require proof of enrollment, but it was not immediately clear how rigidly the software maker plans to enforce the policy. The Web site also features a link to Microsoft’s online Upgrade Advisor, which students can use to verify that their PCs are capable of running Windows 7.

What’s not known is whether scholastic IT departments will support Windows 7 when it debuts on Oct. 22nd. Many held off supporting Windows Vista when it debuted in early 2007 due to concerns about application compatibility.

Earlier this week, Microsoft said it plans to release a set of tools in late October designed to help organizations, including academic institutions, deploy Windows 7.

The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack 2009, R2 features several components that aim to support advanced deployment strategies such as remote desktop imaging and virtualization. MDOP 2009, R2 will be available to Microsoft’s corporate software subscribers, as well as MSDN and TechNet members.

The full version of Windows 7 Home Premium is priced at $199, with an upgrade from Vista or XP costing $119. The full version of Windows 7 Professional is $299, with upgrades going for $199. Windows 7 Ultimate is priced at $319, with the upgrade version at $219.

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