if 1 in 500 PCs has a boxed copy of an OS and the other 499 have pre-installed versions, why would the OS maker care in the slightest about "competitive pricing?"
what competition? apple? *nix? laughable. There is no competition and the consumer has no choice. if it was $5 or $500 there would be an 80% market share. I'm running a pirated copy of XP right now because my legit version that i payed for (in a box, btw) was installed on this same machine more than the allowed 3 times in the past 7 or so years. I refuse to call an 800 number and have some jerkoff ask me to explain myself in order to use the product i purchased years ago. The funny part is, once I (fairly painlessly) removed all the backdoors and keyloggers, etc from this installation of xp, it runs WAY better than the boxed version. Pirated versions often come with all the most annoying bloated shit stripped out, as well as changing up some settings to a more sane configuration.
So i guess there is a choice for the consumer after all.. either buy MS or pirate MS. I suggest pirating it, it usually works better.