It's a move that the team from Cupertino has been using for the last several years, and it looks like Microsoft is going to give it a shot. In a post on The Windows Blog (not to be confused with the Building Windows 8 blog), Brandon LeBlanc announces that Microsoft will be doing a Windows 8 upgrade promotion, where upgrades from Windows XP, Vista and 7 to Windows 8 Pro will cost just $39.99.

This reflects a similar move Microsoft made in 2009, where they offered Windows 7 pre-orders at a significant discount.  At the time those upgrades were $50 for Home Premium, $100 for Pro, and $150 for the Home Premium Family pack (3 licenses), meaning Windows 8 pre-order upgrade pricing is significantly better than Windows 7 pre-order upgrade pricing, with Windows 8 Pro going for less than half the price of its predecessor. And while there isn’t a family pack (so far), 3 Pro licenses are still cheaper than the Windows 7 family pack. The catch of course is that just like last time this is a limited time offer; while Microsoft is running this promotion for far longer than the 2 weeks Windows 7's promotion ran for, this one is only going until January 31, 2013. 

Microsoft has also offered a few technical details on the upgrade process. Microsoft will be selling upgrades both in physical packages and digitally from their store, with the latter being the cheaper price. For electronic copies the upgrade process will be done through the use of the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, an installation app that streamlines the download and allows users to customize what they want to retain from their earlier installation. HTPC users will also want to take note that because this upgrade path leads to Windows 8 Pro, and as part of the promotion buyers will have access to Windows Media Center as a free downloadable feature; this allays concerns from the HTPC community that they would need to upgrade to a significantly more expensive version of Windows 7 Pro to access the feature.

On that note, for those of you still on Windows XP, the fact that Microsoft is offering Windows 8 Pro as opposed to Windows 8 (consumer) should be of particular interest. Windows 8 Pro comes with downgrade rights, which allow the owner to legally install older versions of Windows. So for those of you needing to upgrade from XP but still wanting to hang back with Windows 7, this is a de-facto $40 Windows 7 Professional upgrade too.

Now there's no obvious reason why they've made this pricing move. Perhaps it's a move to quell the outcry from users dissatisfied with the UI changes. Perhaps it's a change in pricing philosophy that treats delta updates as lower cost than a complete license; and if that's the case, could we see annual $40 upgrades a la OS X? What is certain, is that once you make this move, it's difficult to move back to a model where loyal customers have to shell out $150 to use your latest software. With any luck, this new frugalness will reach their other high cost moneymaker: Office.

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  • Syran - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Pay ~ $100/3 years for free updates
    Pay $40 per update, when the company typically can only push out one every 3 years...
  • Solidstate89 - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    It's only a promotional price until January 31, 2013.
  • bdunosk - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Low price of admission for what will be one of the most frustrating experiences for anyone who has to do real work with their computer. I tried the beta and hated it on my laptop / desktop. It will be good on a touch-tablet, but that's about it.

    I just hope M$ loses this Apple-ish attitude of "well, we just know what you want better than you do."
  • KoolAidMan1 - Friday, July 6, 2012 - link

    Except that logic drives Apple's design decisions which makes them more palatable.

    I cannot believe that Windows Explorer is even worse than before. Forget the new Start screen, Explorer is where I have real problems. They take a step forward with Internet Explorer by removing all the chrome and simultaneously take a step back with Windows Explorer by adding a ribbon. Insanity!

    OS X Finder may have its issues but I would take a carbon copy of that over this Win8 Explorer monstrosity any day.
  • StormyParis - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    an upgrade 3-pack could be had for 100 euros (i'm guessing $100 too) for the longest time. Was not quite the same version though, no RDP server.
  • LauRoman - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    What about upgrading from OEM versions? What about other language versions? Not multilanguage versions of Windows 7, like Ultimate or Enterprise, but localized versions, that, for a stupid reason, can't use anytime upgrade to go to Ultimate, at least my language can't.
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    OEM versions: yes. This is the same retail upgrade package we all know and love (or hate), so whether the base OS is retail or OEM doesn't make a difference.
  • Roland00Address - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Windows RT
    Windows 8 (aka Home but they drop the Home name.)
    Windows 8 Pro
    Windows 8 Enterprise

    will all offer language packs, previously only Ultimate and Enterprise had this feature with windows 7.
  • MonkeyPaw - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    I never knew the Start Menu button was so much of the cost of Windows! :p
  • cdomigan - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Apple can afford to sell cheap software as it makes all its margin on its hardware. Where's Microsoft gonna get its profit from?

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