Windows 8 Pricing (Plus Other Confusing Facts and Rumors)

Category: Windows-8

Windows 8 is coming to market on October 26, and Microsoft is doing all it can to urge users to upgrade to its radically new operating system. That includes dropping the cost of a Windows 8 Pro upgrade to unprecedented lows. But will the lower price tag be enough to entice people to switch?

How Much Will Windows 8 Cost?

Current users of Windows 7, XP, and Vista will be able to download a Windows 8 Pro upgrade for only $39.99. A copy on DVD will cost $69.99, but you can expect discounts from major retailers. These prices will be available until January 31, 2013. If you buy a Windows 7 PC between now and January 31, you will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $14.99.

Rumor has it that the standalone version of Windows 8 Pro, fit for installing on a bare-metal PC with no previous version of Windows, will sell for $69.99 from October 26 to January 31; it may cost $199 thereafter. Microsoft is calling this full version Windows 8 Pro System Builder, designed for do-it-yourself folks who are building their own systems.

Windows 8 Pro is the “full Monty” version designed for business, technical, and enthusiast users. With less than a month before launch, we still don’t know what pricing will be for Windows 8, the basic consumer edition. It omits features like drive encryption, group policy, and virtualization. The other two editions are Windows 8 Enterprise and Windows 8 RT (tablet version). Pricing for the former will depend on license volumes, and the latter will be embedded in tablets and smartphones.
Windows 8 Pricing

Oh, in case you're as confused as the next guy by geeky acronyms, here's a bit more... The Windows 8 RT tablet product is also referred to as Windows 8 ARM (because it runs on the ARM chip that tablets use) and WOA (Windows on ARM).

If you wish, you can try the desktop Enterprise edition of Windows 8 for 90 days, free of charge. Microsoft is offering free downloads of Windows 8 evaluation copies right now. It will not be possible to upgrade an evaluation copy to a fully licensed version.

Can My Computer Run Windows 8?

Most PCs that can run Windows Vista or Windows 7 should be able to handle Windows 8. Before installation, the Windows 8 Assistant utility will check all of your hardware and resources for compatibility; it will notify you of any potential problems or Windows 8 features that your hardware cannot support.

Below are the specs required to run the desktop version of Windows 8, which are exactly the same as for Windows 7:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (32-bit systems) or 2 gigabytes (64-bit systems)
  • Hard disk space: 16 gigabytes (32-bit) or 20 gigabytes (64-bit)
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

These are quite modest, actually, so even if you're happily running XP, there's a very good chance you'll have plenty of RAM, disk space and horsepower to run Windows 8.

Can I Upgrade?

Only upgrades from Windows 7 will transfer all of your data files, user accounts, Windows settings and installed applications over to Windows 8. Vista-to-Windows 8 upgrades transfer settings and data files, while XP-to-Windows 8 upgrades transfer only data files. You will have to re-install application software after a Vista or XP upgrade, and re-configure your personal settings when upgrading from XP.

This can be a nuisance if your software was installed from a CD that you no longer have, or was downloaded from who-knows-where. You may also have to dig or beg for the license keys to avoid paying for the software again. A product such as Laplink PCmover can automate the process of moving all your software from one computer to another, and eliminate the need to reinstall.

Yes, But SHOULD I Upgrade?

There's a lot of confusion and skepticism in the air about Windows 8. The radical new user interface, which insists on forcing a touchscreen paradigm onto the familiar Windows environment, will present a learning curve challenge to many users. Most of them will be using computers that don't even have a touchscreen monitor. Microsoft's refusal to offer a "Just Give Me the Desktop" option in Windows 8 is baffling.

Or maybe not. Microsoft seems to be trying to create a unified user experience across the spectrum of smartphone, tablet, notebook and desktop Windows environments. Apple has been moving in this direction, making their desktop Mac OS X product more and more like the insanely popular iOS (iPhone/iPad) interface. The problem is that Microsoft is taking the boring, unpopular Windows Phone interface and awkwardly bolting it onto their wildly popular desktop product.

Another factor sure to cause confusion is the split between the desktop Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT for tablets. The tablet version (RT) will not run any existing Windows programs. All Windows software will have to be rewritten (and probably redesigned) to run on Windows RT. Yes, Microsoft is coming out with a Surface tablet that will run the desktop version of Windows 8. (See What is Microsoft Surface?) Other companies will of course be offering tablets that run either the standard Windows 8, or Windows RT. How will consumers tell the difference?

And as with any major operating system launch, we don't know if there will be hardware or software compatibility problems. We don't know if there will be security holes or other software bugs that need to be patched. Remember the Vista disaster?

One thing is certain... confusion in the Windows 8 world will be epidemic for at least several months following the October 26 release. My advice is to stay put at least until the first Windows 8 service pack comes out in 2013.

What's your take on Windows 8? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Windows 8 Pricing (Plus Other Confusing Facts and Rumors)"

(See all 30 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

28 Sep 2012

It kills me to here so much bad talk about Microsoft i for one Microsoft is all i run for years and never had a problem. Internet explorer is the only browser i use and i will be upgrading to win.8 because if you cant take a Chance for $14.99 just to see what it is well i don't know what to say.Oh yea Mac is to high on their laptops just to do what i do on it for my business.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2012

I really don't understand the push towards touchscreen interface. If you are using a home computer, who wants to sit close enough to the monitor to touch it all the time and who wants to go through all that wasted motion when a mouse is much easier and more efficient to use?

Posted by:

28 Sep 2012

I'm happy with Windows 7, and see no advantage in switching to Windows 8:what does it do that W7 doesn't, except respond to touchscreens which I don't have?

Posted by:

28 Sep 2012

Is anyone working on Operating Systems to allow us to replace Microsoft, Apple, and Linux? I would be more than happy to dump all my paid-for applications for Windows for another GUI-type Operating System. All distributions of Linux are not true GUI systems because they require command-line interfaces for various functions. The last time I used DOS/command-line instructions was in 1994, and I have no intention of going back, which is why I will not use Linux.

Posted by:

28 Sep 2012

I want to talk to the poor sap/character who will put this on a system sporting a 1 GHz. processor. Pentium III anyone?

Posted by:

28 Sep 2012

The big question: Can I buy a copy of Windows 8 to "upgrade" Vista and then use the downgrade rights of W8 to install a copy of Windows 7 on that same PC? Or, is downgrade rights *only* given to OEM copies of W8 preinstalled on purchased PCs?

I would gladly pay (and advise all to pay) $40 to upgrade every *&^%! copy of Vista to Windows 7. At the current $120 cost of W7 Home Premium, no. $120 is more that most of those old Vista PCs are worth.

Posted by:

29 Sep 2012

Can and will Win8 setup your computer to run both Win 7 & 8 with dual boot? Thats the only way I will give Win8 a shot on my computer. Do you plan on doing a article on how to do this?

Thanks for a great newsletter

Posted by:

29 Sep 2012

No Thanks, I'll give this GUI a miss.
I'm quite happy to use (& constantly clean)a touch screen OS when on my Android tablet but there's no way I want that experience on any of my large screen desktops (or even my laptop).
My arms aren't nearly long enough, lol.

Posted by:

Savile Burdett
29 Sep 2012

I have my instruction? a lap top which is connected to a larger screen. One day the image stopped showing on the large screen. The communication is still ok, sometimes I can persuade the background picture to show. I can click on screen 2 (when in display) and make it "actve" but that reverts to inactive when I click on any other button which seems sensible or possible. How can I make it remeber

Posted by:

John B
29 Sep 2012

Having used windows 8 for several months now I can sum up my experience of it quite succinctly, its crap.
Do yourselves a favour buy Windows 7 and completely forget about windows 8, wait until Windows9 or at least until microsft come to their senses and realise that the majority of desktop users do not want or need the clunky Fisher Price touchy feely non intuituve screen interface.
I have tried to like windows 8 but I have never shouted at a computer as much since the days of Dos 4. Try the windows 8 download whilst it is still available and you might understand how infuriating it is. Do not wait until you have to pay out your hard earned cash to have the experience. There are lots of other reasons why I don't like windows 8 but this would just turn into a rant.

Posted by:

29 Sep 2012

I am tired of companies forgetting how they got where they are. It is "us" the consumer. Microsoft needs to wise up. I will be moving to a Mac soon.

Posted by:

29 Sep 2012

How will this work? If, I download the 90 day trial ver. of win 8 and don't like it can I go back to win 7 w/ no probs.

Posted by:

29 Sep 2012

Windows 8 for the majority retail, corporate, and educational communities is too much, too soon, too radical,too expensive on many different levels (training, hardware upgrades, and deployment costs), and not conducive in the short term to enhanced productivity. If the corporate sector can not realize a profit by making any investment, they simply won't do it. Many CEO's and CIO's of very large corporations are already on record as saying "Thanks but no thanks, we don't need it." Intel and Google are at the top of that list. Windows 8, IMO, will be another Vista. It will also be the best friend that Apple and Linux will have for a while. I will recommend Windows 7 or Linux to my friends and clients. Windows 7, all versions, is supported till January, 2020, Apple is simply too expensive, and Linux is supported quite well on a long term basis, particularly the Ubuntu and Fedora distributions and the cost is the time to download them, burn the software to a CD/DVD, and install it. The only reason that any user would have to stick with Windows 8 is for gaming. Otherwise you could do just fine without. The best solution would be to run Ubuntu or Fedora, install a virtual machine, and run Windows in it. You then have games and productivity all on one unit. Thanks for all your hard work, Bob, and the contribution that you make to all of us. We sincerely appreciate it.

Posted by:

30 Sep 2012

In a nutshell, I've never really met a Windows "upgrade" I liked... Sounds like the same old same old where the end user also gets to be the beta-tester. I have XP on my old laptop, and it's more than adequate for my purposes. The desktop has Vista and it is a pain (I keep having to "fix" things). The netbook has Win7 and it's tolerable - no problems so far. IMO if I have to do any upgrading at all it will stop at Win7 until Microsoft wises up (which may be never). Maybe I should be picking up some "spare" Win7 OS packages for future use if I buy a newer system.

Posted by:

30 Sep 2012

Does one HAVE to use the stupid touchscreen. I have two laptops and could care less about a touchscreen.

Posted by:

Colin Barnhorst
30 Sep 2012

Do you think there will even be a retail Windows 8? Microsoft has not announced retail availability of Windows 8. Only Windows 8 Pro. It may be that Windows 8 will be only available to royalty OEMs for installation on new computers. It appears that Windows 8 Pro will be the ONLY edition available at retail, either with an upgrade license or with the System Builder license.

And what about the hobbyist standby, OEM System Builder? I also haven't see any announcement concerning OEM System Builder copies. I suspect there won't be any, given the new pricing and the reuse of "System Builder" to refer to the full license retail sku. If so, the hobbyist abuse of the OEM System Builder license will finally have been dealt with.

Posted by:

01 Oct 2012

I like the Classic Shell from,

I have a desktop and it's not a touch screen so this shell makes Windows 8 easier for me.

Posted by:

01 Oct 2012

I downloaded the free Enterprise trial and have played with it for about three weeks. If what Bob says in the article is correct and Microsoft offers a deeply discounted full version of Windows 8 Pro, I think it would be a mistake not to buy it before the discount goes away. If you're timid, you don't have to install it right away. You can just wait until Microsoft releases the first service pack, then install the O.S. and the Service Pack at the same time.

For those who don't want to jump through all the designed-for-touchscreen hoops, just do as Brian said: Install Classic Shell. The interface will be almost the same as Windows 7, but the system will run faster.

For me the deal-breaker is those two words: "runs faster". Of course, my little three-week trial isn't enough to determine its speed and stability under extreme pressure, but so far, it seems to be pretty bullet-proof.

Posted by:

Abi Calcano
01 Oct 2012

Thanks again Bob , good feedback I will upgrade my rig to Windows 8 as soon as I can get my hands on it .. :-)

Posted by:

East-Slope Charlie
11 Feb 2013

I am working on a dissertation and had my (14 year old XP up graded to XP-PRO using Windows 2000) looked at by my ISP who'd dumped an applet on it so they could see why it was SEEMING to slow down. Applet did not go away. They were going to charge me between $700(lowest end) and $1300 (highest end) (and for those who care $1, 800 was the outlier) to 'fix' it. Right. So I got a NEW computer to finish up, and it came with Win 8 on it. I was told that I HAD to take the WIN 8 and like it. A kinder Tech told me I could DOWNGRADE to Win 7 if I bought the disk.

After meeting a lawyer who was bitching about his 'Brand New $5, 100 computer system' He had flyers printed up that said $2, 000 cash take the entire thing! -- in the parking lot he said for you: $1, 500 tomorrow, cash - bring you car, take it all away!" -- sure was tempting to cancel the 2 hour old order --

But, after HOURS of trying to type (re-write or type new) on a couple of chapters of my dissertation on a new Win 8 at the library, I'm FAR more than happy that I can have the windows 8 turned back into a Win 7 machine where my learning curve will be minimal -- not screaming frustration. And I only have a few more days until it shows at my door and I can be on the phone with a Support Tech who understands what the problem is without having to explaining all over. I can't have steep learning curves going on in classes, research, and writing without having to worry about a new system which has from what I am told, a learning curve that starts out at the cube of the exponent. Then gets harder.

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