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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  • Lonyo - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    And what did you use it for? Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    To quickly access a recently used document. Reply
  • B3an - Monday, July 02, 2012 - link

    Thats just another reason why the Start menu isn't needed.

    Instead pin the software to the taskbar > then right click on it. You'll get a Jump List with all the recently accessed documents.

    It's the same amount of time, 2 clicks. Pretty much all software supports Jump Lists now... web browsers, Windows Explorer, the whole Adobe suite, MS Office, Steam...
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    So 2 clicks vs 3 clicks is a game changer for a OS? hardly Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    Huh? It's 2 clicks on both. And i dont know what you're talking about either, i'm just pointing out why the Start menu is irrelevant. Reply
  • Visual - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    So, have 5-6 manually pinned apps taking space on your taskbar and eventually you're certain to need something from some app you didn't pin cos you use more rarely anyway... instead of a single menu that automatically adjusts to what you used recently?

    Yeah, great improvement...
    Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    Thankfully I run Eyefinity... And Taskbar space isn't a problem.

    But metro... Not going to bother with it.
    The one thing I like about the regular desktop is my 5760x1080 resolution backgrounds which look fantastic, I don't want that replaced with several dozen tiles.

    Plus Metro and multi-tasking on Multi--monitors is just plain horrible.
    Reply
  • choirbass - Saturday, July 07, 2012 - link

    Yeah. It was hard enough for my family to adjust from the default XP UI. Just a changed start menu even. The fact that the Windows Explorer UI is essentially being abandoned in favor of a simplified touchscreen UI, probably doesn't sit well with many desktop/laptop users. Reply
  • ionis - Tuesday, July 03, 2012 - link

    Pinning every single application I have to the task bar sounds like a terrible idea. Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, July 04, 2012 - link

    Then pin them to the metro Start Screen. It has way more space than the Start menu. Reply

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