Microsoft has announced that Windows XP, Vista, and 7 customers in 131 countries will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 by purchasing it online once the new operating system is available this fall.

Windows Media Center will also be available as a free add-on once you’re running Windows 8 Pro. It will be a paid add-on for the non-pro version of Windows 8.

Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant

The promotion runs through January 31, 2013 and it provides a pretty good incentive to upgrade… if you think you can deal with Microsoft’s new Metro-style user interface and the removable of the Start button from the Windows 8 desktop.

Microsoft currently charges $120 or more to upgrade to Windows 7 from earlier versions of Windows (although bargain hunters can find deals for far below list price at various retailers).

The $40 promotion price feels a lot more Apple-like. The Mac maker tends to charge around $30 for major OS updates.

Of course, Ubuntu, Fedora, and dozens of other open source operating systems offer upgrades for free.

If you decide to buy a Windows 8 upgrade disk from a bricks and mortar store, Microsoft will offer a retail Windows 8 Pro upgrade package for $69.99 during the promotion. But if you have a reasonably fast internet connection you’re probably better off saving the $30 and downloading your update.

Microsoft is also running a separate promotion for folks that buy new computers between now and January 31st, 2013. They’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 8 for $15.


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13 replies on “Upgrading to Windows 8 will cost just $40”

  1. I’m amazed they are offering this price to XP users who never upgraded to Vista or 7, like myself. Seems too good to be true. What’s the catch?

    Apple has only offered one OS upgrade for $30 that I’m aware of, Lion. Is Apple’s plan to continue that pricing with future OS upgrades?

    1. I think they’re just trying to take advantage of the huge number of legacy systems that are out there belonging to people who have never seen the point of upgrading from WinXP.

      In essence this is their latest effort to clean up the mess left by Windows Vista. So many people stayed on XP that almost all the hardware and software vendors continued supporting the XP platform, given the large number of customers who stayed on it, even when Win7 came along.

      Finally, with their push into the mobile space with the Metro interface, they really want Win8 to become the new standard basis of support across all Windows-based vendors, so that Metro becomes ubiquitous in home and business computing.

      So, no, not too good to be true, MS just has good reasons for making this offer.

      1. It also helps to appeal to as many people as possible when introducing a new OS that’s significantly different from anything released before.

        MS is taking a pretty big risk with this release and they’re probably going to use every trick they can think of to maximize their chances.

    2. There’s a massive number of people still using XP. Some will hold on till they stop supporting it April of 2014.

      It wasn’t until this year that Windows 7 users finally broke the 50% mark.

      So there’s a lot of reasons for MS to include XP users in the upgrade offer.

      For Apple, they’re switching from a two year cycle for OS X releases to shooting for one a year. So price is reasonable but you’ll be getting a new version a lot more often than you would with Windows. While they’re also trying to phase out physical media and make the updates via online, but it appears MS may be doing the same as well.

    3. Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” was a $29 upgrade from 10.5.x, though in practice there was nothing stopping you from using the disk to upgrade any Intel-based Mac still running a version of 10.4 (or from using it to upgrade more than one Mac without purchasing the 5-computer “Family Pack” for $49, for that matter). Apple recently offered 10.6 for free to encourage holdouts to move from MobileMe to iCloud, which requires 10.6.

      10.7 “Lion” is available by download at $30 for as many Macs as you have linked to your AppleID for use with the App Store; the App Store is only available if you have 10.6.6 or higher, but again as far as I’m aware you could save the disk image and use it to install even on computers running earlier versions, or on a blank hard drive. You could also buy it for $69 on a USB “thumb drive,” but I don’t know what the limitations of that license were (upgrade from 10.6, only one computer, …).

      10.8 “Mountain Lion” will be available later this month for $20 in the Mac App Store; I don’t think it is known whether it will demand that you have 10.7.x installed, or if you’ll be able to upgrade from 10.6.x via the App Store or, after downloading it, repurpose the disk image for other computers. It looks like Apple is shifting the Mac OS major-version release cadence to yearly to match the pace of iOS releases, after taking a breather with releases every other year for 10.4 to 10.7; one presumes they will continue charging less than the old $129 ($199 Family Pack) price they charged for 10.0 through 10.5 (except 10.1, which was between free and $20 — long story).

      Sheesh, why did I waste all this pixellated ink doing this data dump on you? Got curious, I guess, so I went looking in Mactracker…

        1. In the last few days Apple confirmed that you will be able to upgrade from 10.6.8 to 10.8 directly without having 10.7.x installed first; I still don’t know if the disk image will be transferrable for installation on other computers with earlier versions of OS X or a blank hard drive. And you’re welcome; always happy to help a fellow big-block lover!

  2. I am assuming one cannot do a complete install from scratch with this upgrade disk?

    1. From Microsoft:
      “After your download finishes, you can choose to proceed with the upgrade (“Install now”) or install later either from your desktop or by creating your own media. If you choose to create your own media, you will be able to create your own bootable USB or .ISO file which can be burned onto a DVD for upgrade and backup purposes.”

      Sure sounds like a clean install to me. Is this correct?

      1. Upgrades usually check for a valid previous installation but during the installation process that previous installation can either be archived or deleted right away.

        While Windows 8 lets you make backups. So you don’t need to do a clean install again afterward and worry about activation again.

        Though, like with the Windows 7 upgrade, there may be work around solutions to manage a clean install.

        1. Yep — if Metro fails, then they’ve a real problem on their hands when it comes to making headway in the mobile space.

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