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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  • steven75 - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    They could pay me $40 and I still wouldn't replace my Windows 7 with this monstrosity (that I made sure to try out before coming to that opinion). Reply
  • Kelemvor - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    Not sure if I'd want to upgrade right away, but probably makes sense to buy a couple licenses anyway so I have them when I'm ready to go. Of course by then I might just be buying a new PC anyway which would come with it... Reply
  • blahsaysblah - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    Anyone find any information on the limits of this upgrade license?

    Is it locked to the specific hardware combination like some previous licenses? When would a regular license be better?

    Very big chance that in the Windows 8 time frame I would move to a new computer, laptop or Intel slate. Will this cheap upgrade allow you to move the license over to a new device? I was surprised by this with one of my Windows 7 upgrades (after reading the fine print, after the fact...).

    Also, is there any difference between the more expensive retail upgrade versus the cheaper digital upgrade and order a backup disc option?

    Read the blog on Microsoft's site and the comments below it but it was never answered. Anyone see answer anywhere?
    Reply
  • JohnUSA - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    Throw away this horrible and irritating Windows 8 in the sewer.
    People responsible for designing Metro for mouse and keyboard use should be executed.
    I will wait for Windows 7 SP2.
    Reply
  • Shivam - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    Exclusive Windows8Consumer.IN : Prices for the final windows 8 Editions
    http://windows8consumer.in/blog/index.php/2012/07/...
    Reply
  • p05esto - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - link

    You couldn't,t pay me $200 to put Metro crap on my workstation...you've got to be kidding. Metro is for your average computer user idiot... No respected power user would up with that nonsense. Period. Reply
  • peternelson - Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - link


    When Microsoft offered a cheap upgrade to people who had tried Windows 7 before release I'd have been interested but it was only on the lower version, I wanted Ultimate.

    So I bought W7 Ultimate in store at full retail price. This gave me full media, no messing with previous installs or license keys, and none of the OEM type licensing by physical machine meaning I can transfer / take my investment in W7 license as I upgrade to new hardware.

    So, they're now offering an update? Since I already paid for Ultimate in W7, how about some attractive upgrade from that to W8 (ideally to ultimate).

    And if they have any sense, reinstate the start menu (at least as an option) in the first available service pack opportunity.

    Also wondering if Windows 8 touch is useable as a virtualised guest and if it can work with the touch version of Wacom Intuos 5 tablet.
    Reply
  • Bownce - Thursday, July 5, 2012 - link

    Turning desktops into phones, one mind at a time. Reply
  • Taurus229 - Thursday, July 5, 2012 - link

    I would much rather spend $19.95 for a Mountain Lion upgrade than $39.99 for Windows 8. Windows 8 is not worth the DVD it is burned to, for any desktop computer. Windows 8 may be a nice gimmick for a tablet but is not for serious work! Reply
  • Andunestel - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Can anyone clarify the note regarding downgrade rights?

    It was my understanding that downgrade rights were only available on volume-licensed installations.

    Is Jason stating that, if I purchase a FPP copy of Windows 8 Pro through the retail channel (NOT an upgrade to an OEM copy of Win XP/Vista/7), it will include downgrade rights to Windows 7 Pro?
    Reply

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