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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  • Novaguy - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Hmm, I'll have to think about whether I want to do that. But interesting nonetheless. Reply
  • powerarmour - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    I suppose $39.99 is better than a no sale... :P Reply
  • Pirks - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    WINDOWS MEDIA CENTER IS NOT PAID IT'S A FREE UPGRADE

    YES, FREE!

    JASON PLEASE UPDATE THE ARTICLE THANK YOU!
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Actually I'm the one that did that. Apparently WMC is technically still a paid upgrade, but MS is offering it for free for the period of the promotion. Reply
  • Pirks - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Thanks for fixing the article Ryan :) Reply
  • Conficio - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Now there's no obvious reason why they've made this pricing move.

    The only obvious reason would be that in a time where a typical consumer or business PC costs ~$500, an additional 30% for the OS seems a bit overpriced. Not to mention that you add another 30%-40% for Office and Outlook.
    Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Considering how crappy Windows8 metro is for most people...

    I think it will be the first version of Windows that people don't pirate.

    If MS offered everyone free copies of Win8... I still wouldn't put it on any of my computers.

    The Win8 metro team did it badly... and made the desktop an ugly place to be.
    Reply
  • Belard - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Anyone notice how ugly the Window itself is? Yep, Windows8 keeps the same button layout, but strips out all the depth and style. All buttons are not flat ugly things stuck on ugly super plain windows. Reply
  • osxsier - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    I think this will go a long way in helping Microsoft move Windows 8 out to the masses. You know, I always was a huge fan of Apple for many years. But after seeing all these lawsuits against various companies, I realized they are now the bully. I dont like bullies.

    Saying that, I had Splashtop on my iPad for Windows 8. Getting a chance to play with the native gestures for Windows 8, it was clear to me I like this alot better than iOS. In fact, I usually just remote into my PC and use my iPad that way now.

    Finally, I really do hope Windows 8 does well. Its a great touch based OS. And for those that dont like it, just go back to the desktop. It boots faster, games run better and as PC gamer thats all that matters to me. We need to pull for Microsoft this round people. Apple needs to be humbled a bit!
    Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    Are you aware of how many lawsuits MS has imposed on others? MS still owns over 90% of the PC market.

    I agree, what Apple is doing is BAD... It pisses me off every time they do this. I'm still going Android for a phone, but I may still buy an iPad4... I haven't seen anything from Android to make me choose otherwise yet. And I'm not touching Win8 tablets.

    Now, Win8 on a tablet works a lot better than Win8 on a desktop computers.

    Use it for a while... get back to us. YOU cannot stay in desktop mode with WIn8... its always constant back and forth. Metro *IS* the start screen.

    Metro needs to be optional for Win8.

    But also, MS has thrown out metro and made Win8 as ugly as possible so it looks kind of like Metro. Its truly a puke interface.
    Reply

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