Microsoft has a lot riding on Windows 8. And new pricing details reveal just how important it is for the company that users quickly adopt the new operating system.
In a Windows Team Blog post, Microsoft Communications Manager Brandon LeBlanc detailed an upgrade program that will allow Windows users to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $40 via a Windows.com download. In a surprising break from tradition -- apart from the Apple-like pricing scheme -- the promotion will also cover the decade-old Windows XP operating system.
LeBlanc writes, "Starting at general availability, if your PC is running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 you will qualify to download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99 in 131 markets."
A retail DVD version of the Windows 8 Pro upgrade will be available in stores for $69.99. Windows Media Center will be a free upgrade for users of the "add features" option within the operating system. The Windows 8 Pro upgrade promotion ends January 31, 2013.
Upon purchasing the update and completing the download, users are given the option to install it directly, configure a bootable USB or create an .ISO file that can be used to burn a DVD copy. Alternately, a $15 backup DVD will be made available for purchase from Windows.com.
Upgraders can opt for a clean install -- a popular choice among PC enthusiasts -- or an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 that preserves settings, applications and personal files. The upgrade path from Vista and XP is a little more complex, however.
LeBlanc explains, "If you are upgrading from Windows Vista, you will be able to bring along your Windows settings and personal files, and if you are upgrading from Windows XP you will only be able to bring along your personal files."
Windows 8 is Microsoft's attempt to capitalize on the white-hot tablet market, which is currently dominated by Apple's iPad, without abandoning decades of work done on making the Windows desktop the world's leading desktop operating system.
Windows 8 features a touch-enabled interface called Metro, among its other tablet-friendly attributes. A version for ARM mobile processor-based tablets called Windows RT will ship with a version of Office.
Last month, Microsoft revealed Surface, a self-branded, ARM-powered Windows RT tablet that the company will sell this fall to coincide with the Windows 8 launch. An Intel-based version of the tablet will follow approximately 90 days later.