Windows 8 Pricing Goes Back to Normal

As planned, the $39.99 upgrade deal will come to an end on February 1.

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One of the many things about Windows 8 which is new is its pricing. When Microsoft released the operating-system upgrade in October, it let PC owners upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 — a much, much lower pricetag than Windows has historically carried. It was so cheap that if you were the least bit intrigued by Windows 8, the cost was unlikely to prevent you from taking the plunge.

But Microsoft said all along that the $39.99 price was a special offer, good only through January 31. And now Windows’ official blogger, Brandon Le Blanc, is confirming that the deal is ending. As of February 1, Windows 8 Pro will be a $199.99 upgrade, and the slightly more basic Windows 8 will be $119.99.

When Microsoft announced the cheap introductory price, I thought it would probably turn into a permanent recalibration of the price of Windows — in the tech world, it’s pretty rare that the cost of anything goes up. I was wrong. But since Microsoft is simply following the plan it announced months ago, it’s a mistake to obsess over how the price hike relates to Windows 8’s sales so far. (The company keeps saying it’s doing well, but third-party reports tend to involve it getting off to a sluggish start.) And upgrades of existing PCs, while important to Microsoft, aren’t nearly as important as sales of new PCs with Windows 8 pre-installed, so the pricing experiment was never going to make or break the new OS.

Still, I wonder: If the $39.99 offer had led to an unprecedented explosion of interest in Windows 8, would Microsoft have extended the deal indefinitely? It would have had to sell an awful lot of copies to make up for the $160 reduction in profit compared to the full price of $199.99.