Right now Microsoft offers several different ways to get Windows 7. You can buy a computer that comes with the operating system preloaded. You can purchase an upgrade disk to move from an earlier version of Windows to Windows 7. You can get an OEM disk that’s meant for system builders, but also often offered as a standalone package. Or you can buy a full version of Windows.
That last option is the most expensive, with prices starting at $199.99 for a full version of Windows 7 Home Premium.
But it looks like Microsoft might drop that option with Windows 8, instead offering only the OEM and upgrade versions. That’s according to Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley, and The Verge kind of received confirmation last week when Microsoft told the site that Mac users would have to use the Windows 8 for System Builders version to install Windows 8 on a Mac using Boot Camp.
It’s not entirely clear yet what this means for customers looking to build a new PC or install Windows 8 on a system that isn’t currently running an earlier version of the operating system.
There are a few things that set Windows 7 and older OEM disks apart from full versions. Microsoft offers 90 days worth of support on new versions, and allows you to use the same disk to install Windows on more than one computer, although not at the same time. In other words, you can install Windows, buy a new computer, and install Windows on that new PC when you stop using the old one. The Windows 7 OEM edition can only be re-activated if you’re still using the same computer.
But we won’t know whether Microsoft imposes the same restrictions on Windows 8 for System Builders until it hits store shelves in October.
It’s also worth noting that many users have found they can perform a clean install of Windows 7 on a computer that has no operating system using just the cheaper upgrade disk. Your results may vary, and it’s not clear whether this will be possible with the Windows 8 Upgrade disk — which is expected to go on sale this fall for about $40.
via The Verge