Microsoft has announced that upgrades to Windows 8 from previous versions of the operating system will go for $39.99 via download and $69.99 if purchased in a store.
The low-cost upgrade is positioned as a promotion available only from the time Windows 8 ships this fall until Jan. 31, 2013, Microsoft said. Users running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 will be able to download Windows 8 Pro in 131 markets.
Microsoft also is allowing users to add Windows Media Center for free after the upgrade. In addition, upgrading customers have the option of purchasing a backup Windows 8 DVD for $15 plus shipping and handling.
Ease of use and ease of access are clearly two of Microsofts goals with its the Windows 8 upgrade strategy, as the company is making this upgrade easier and cheaper than ever to attain. At $40, the Windows 8 upgrade is cheaper than the opening promotion for Windows 7, which went for $49 for the Home Premium version and $99 for the Professional version. In April, Microsoft announced there will be four editions of its upcoming operating system: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, Windows RT and Windows 8 Enterprise. Windows 8 Pro has everything in the basic version of Windows 8 with added features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity.
We set out to make it as easy as possible for everyone to upgrade to Windows 8, said Brandon LeBlanc, a Microsoft spokesman, in a blog post. When you use Windows.com to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant makes upgrading simple by walking you through the upgrade process step-by-step from purchase to download and then of course installation.
The Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant will check to make sure your PC is ready for Windows 8 and will provide a detailed compatibility report that lets you know of anything you may have to address, LeBlanc said. It will also inform you of any application or device compatibility issues.
Apple has been known for low-cost OS upgrades, with recent upgrades going for as low as $20 to $30. However, Microsoft is keen on getting Windows 8 out as far and wide as possible in a first wave to get it in the hands of users.
Kip Kniskern of LiveSide.net sees this move as an interesting bet for Microsoft. Kniskern said:
"So with no phone, content, or killer apps to drive Windows 8 sales, Microsoft needs to go cheap, and hope it comes out ok in the end. If it all works, and we end up with a Marketplace full of apps, an Xbox full of tunes and video, and a phone and a Surface and a desktop all running Windows 8, Microsoft will have hit that big bet theyve been making. If not? Well thats why were here, either way it will be fun to find out!"
We believe that your upgrade experience in Windows 8 will be a breeze by offering a faster experience, a single upgrade path and compatibility from prior versions of Windows, LeBlanc said. Weve continued to listen to our customers and have expanded the ability to download to over 100 countries and 37 languages.
In addition, LeBlanc said users not upgrading from a previous version of Windows and are building their own PC or installing Windows 8 in a virtual machine or a separate partition will be able to purchase and install the Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro System Builder product. Pricing for this option was not disclosed.