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Microsoft’s Price-Busting Gambit: Windows 8 Pro Will Be a $39.99 Upgrade

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We may still be waiting for Windows 8, but it’s already accomplished one thing: It’s become the most surprising version of Windows ever. Even the pricing, it turns out, is a major departure from past editions.

Microsoft’s Windows blogger, Brandon LeBlanc, just spilled the beans:

We set out to make it as easy as possible for everyone to upgrade to Windows 8. Starting at general availability, if your PC is running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 you will qualify to download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99 in 131 markets. And if you want, you can add Windows Media Center for free through the “add features” option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade.

By comparison, the Windows 7 Pro upgrade is $199.99; even the less full-featured Windows 7 Home Premium one lists for $119.99. They can be found at a discount, but $39.99 is still an exceptionally cheap upgrade by Microsoft standards.

Apple pioneered this sort of low, low upgrade pricing with OS X 10.7 Lion, which went for $29.99; the upcoming Mountain Lion is just $19.9, and paying that price entitles you to install it on as many Macs as you own. (Like Apple, Microsoft is switching to direct digital distribution which lowers costs and lets it keep more of the profit–Windows 8 Pro is a $39,99 download, but the shrinkwrapped edition will be $69.99.)

[UPDATE: As Jason Rapp reminded me on Twitter, I forgot that it was actually OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard that introduced the $29.99 price]

I doubt that Microsoft is doing this for competitive reasons–if you’re excited about a cheap OS X upgrade, you most like don’t care about a cheap Windows one, and vice versa–but like Apple, the company has apparently come to the conclusion that it’s in its own interest to induce as many people as possible to make the move to the latest version of its operating system as quickly as possible.

Of course, it’s not that simple: Windows 8 is such a radical reinvention of the operating system that a lot of users are going to find it intimidating and/or unappealing no matter what the price is. At least at first, and for the foreseeable future in some cases.

But by knocking the price of Windows 8 down so low, Microsoft is betting that many people will say “Why not?” And it’s recalibrating its customers’ expectations about how much software should cost, thereby sacrificing its ability to charge $200 or more for any other mainstream Windows upgrade ever again. (The $39.99 price is good through January 31st, the company says.)

So are you more likely to try Windows 8 than you would have been if it had been a triple-digit decision?

17 comments
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Khürt L. Williams
Khürt L. Williams

I might actually upgrade the Windows XP virtual machine I sometimes run on my Mac.

JimD
JimD

Wait, they're comparing Apples FULL VERSION price of OS X ($29) to MS's UPGRADE price ($39). WTF? How much does a full (new) version of Windows 8 cost via digital download?

Dennis Koustoubardis
Dennis Koustoubardis

I installed 8 Developer edition and it sucked. I hated it so bad I reinstalled Win 7. And im a person who has Windows on both my Macs also. Fail big time in my eyes. Maybe it will improve but i aint holding my breath. I hated it.

Gin Heedneeds
Gin Heedneeds

Text 3060402 to 69937 for 'Night Time by Tyler Shemwell...G-ESTEEM

/I'm i doing too much/Or losing my touch/

...a brilliantly written song about "can't wait until night time to party," with lines like,/Riding through the slum/Where i'm from/A place where crack fiends and fat girls love me the most/Some never made it home to take their work clothes off/Afraid they gonna miss something/.

-"Real and A Good Time"

G-ESTEEM-A tenacious confidence;mental toughness"If god is with me than who can be against me? I can do anything. G-ESTEEM Go hard,we dying soon.G-ESTEEM "The game is in belief"

STAY BOW-LEGGED amp; THICK. G-ESTEEM (Presidential Election Nov 6, 2012) 44-Life

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

I like the price, and I hope it sticks around. However, Win 7 works so well that I'm not sure there's any real reason to upgrade.

40Gamer
40Gamer

Waiting to see what the first people to jump in experience. Especially the gamers. 

JohnDoey
JohnDoey

Still too expensive. Windows does not compete with the Mac anymore. It competes with iPad, iPhone, and Android.

iPad and iPad sell for an average of $600 and you get 3 yearly OS upgrades for free. But the entry-level iPad is only $399 and entry-level iPhone $375, and they also get free OS upgrades, and their apps are all cheap and install remotely.

Android sells for an average of $200, and although there are no OS upgrades and almost no apps, a whole new device is just another $200.

Windows devices sell for an average of $400. Even at $40, you want 10% of the device cost just to rev the OS? It is way too much.

davebarnes
davebarnes

What happens when people find out they can't revert to Windows [XP, Vista, 7]?

As usual, "dual booties" will be able to, but what about Joe BestBuy?

John W Baxter
John W Baxter

My plan: the laptop (currently dual boot Win 7 and Win 8 RP) will get the RTM via TechNet when that is possible, keeping its Win 7. The laptop will then get its upgrade soon after GA, as a zap everything including Sony Recovery partition (within the upgrade process) ending the dual boot.

Soon after that, the desktop will get its Win 7 partition upgraded to Win 8, with its Win 8 RP partition wiped for other uses--possibly including shoving boundaries around.

Or something like that.

Note that this offer, while the cheapest ever, is even cheaper than it sounds since it is for Windows 8 Pro (regardless of starting level). The best I recall from before was three licenses for Windows 7 Home Premium for $150 if ordered online before GA.

Oh, and...plus tax in sales tax states, of course.

  --John

Henry_3_Dogg
Henry_3_Dogg

"I doubt that Microsoft is doing this for competitive reasons–if you’re excited about a cheap OS X upgrade, you most like don’t care about a cheap Windows one, and vice versa"

But if you are trying to choose between a PC and a Mac then the fact that future OS upgrades would be 4x as expensive on a PC may well put you off.

Khürt L. Williams
Khürt L. Williams

The cost of the OS is part of the price of the new PC/Mac so user actually never consider the cost of future upgrades. 

JohnDoey
JohnDoey

Most people are choosing between Windows and iPad, where the comparison is even worse because iPad comes with 3 free future OS upgrades, and starts at $399.

Paul Jasper
Paul Jasper

Now let's have a reasonably priced Microsoft Office upgrade! Millions of corporate users are stuck with old Office versions in the same way they are stuck with old Windows versions. Even Microsoft's own advertising for Office admits this.

synthmeister
synthmeister

It will be very interesting to see how the pricing for Office shakes out. I don't think people will be willing to pay $200 - $300 for Office on a $500 - $700 tablet.

ChristopherJablonski
ChristopherJablonski

Am I more likely to try Windows 8 than if it had been a triple-digit decision? Undoubtedly, yes. Unless I read some terrible reviews between now and launch, I will be upgrading almost immediately--something I can't say for any version of Windows previously. In fact, I've never upgraded Windows before. I've relied on the bundled version with a new PC. 

nd1090
nd1090

I intend to buy a Windows 8 device or two anyway - but this makes upgrading older machines so much easier.

Ender Wiggum
Ender Wiggum

Yes.  But still... No.  I'm not walking this plank first.