Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system means change – with a capital “C” – for anyone interested in purchasing new PCs and laptops in the coming months.
The introduction of the Metro UI – now apparently known simply as “Windows 8” – has proved controversial. Designed primarily as a touch-based user interface, the tiles and hidden menus of the new Start screen and the relegation of the old Windows desktop seems to have dismayed many people.
However, Microsoft believe they are playing catch-up to Apple in the tablet computer and UI stakes. They’ve already announced the Windows 8-powered Surface tablet, and the whole touch interface aspect of Windows 8 is influenced by the touch-based changes Apple introduced in Mac OS X Lion.
Whether the mixed reviews of the preview releases of Windows 8 have influenced pricing or Microsoft are simply taking a leaf out of Apple’s book isn’t quite clear, but the price of a new copy of Windows 8 will be noticeably lower than a comparative copy of Windows Vista or Windows 7.
Indeed, there is a chance of purchasing Windows 8 for under $15!
The Apple Model
Have Microsoft based their new operating system pricing on the relatively low prices offered by Apple?
Mac OS X 10.8 costs just $19.99 when downloaded from the App Store (currently the only option) while the previous Mac OS X 10.7 was available for $24.99 on DVD.
This is in stark contrast to Windows 7; upon release, this popular operating system was a massive $154 for the Home Premium version!
It doesn’t look as though this is a one-off, either – the inclusion of the Microsoft Store in Windows 8 means that subsequent releases can be made available via download. Will users accept much higher prices for downloadable updates? It is unlikely, so it could be that future versions of Windows stay around the $39.99 upgrade price rather than the brand new disc option at $69.99.
Hmm, $39.99 doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Upgrading from Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7
While not the lowest price on offer on this page, the prospect of getting a new copy of Windows for $39.99 is pretty tempting. Sure, it might have the touch-based user interface formerly known as Metro, but it also has a desktop view and full backward compatibility with Windows 7 applications.
Additionally, Windows 8 is designed to run apps – many of which are free – from the Microsoft Store.
So how do you get a copy of Windows 8 for $39.99? The secret is to already run a legal copy of Windows XP, Vista or 7 and use the upgrade path. There are three versions of the new OS: Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT. The latter is for ARM tablets, while the former has fewer features (but should be fine for the vast majority of users). As there were so many versions of Windows 7 (six main editions alone) this will make choosing a copy much easier.
Note that while the operating system might be relatively cheap, the amount of time it takes for you to upgrade from Windows XP might not be. Vista and 7 can be easily upgraded, meaning that vital data and applications will be retained during the process (although anything you don’t wish to lose should be backed up, of course). For Windows XP users, however, backing up all vital data is necessary before installation of the new OS.
If you’re using Windows XP, the chances are that you’ve had your computer for five or six years. Upgrading for just under $40 therefore is an opportunity not to be missed!
Bought a Windows 7 PC Recently? No Problem!
Remarkably, $39.99 isn’t the cheapest option for purchasing Windows 8. If you are buying a Windows 7 computer before January 31st 2013, Microsoft will offer an upgrade for a super-low $14.99! It isn’t just any upgrade either – this option also offers Windows 8 Pro!
All you need to do to qualify is buy a new computer with a legal copy of Windows 7 preinstalled, head to Windows Upgrade Offer and register your details.
When the offer is available, Microsoft will then email purchase instructions and require payment, and you’ll then be able to download your copy of Windows 8 Pro for that super low price!
Use The Windows 8 Release Preview
If all of this seems a bit too much trouble and you’re not all that bothered about buying Windows 8 until you have got used to it, the Windows 8 Release Preview will be available to use until January 16, 2013.
This means that you have plenty of time to head to Microsoft’s download site and grab your copy of the preview which can be installed as an upgrade, as a dual-booted OS or as a virtual machine.
After all, what’s the point of spending money on an operating system as radically different as Windows 8 if you don’t like it? Try before you buy!
There are three ways in which you can get a copy of Windows 8 without breaking the bank. Whether you choose to take the upgrade path from your current version of Windows or you’re buying a new PC, laptop or hybrid tablet now and want to have the option to upgrade when the new OS is released or even if you want to try it for free first, there is an option to cover any budget.
What is most interesting about this whole Windows 8 upgrade scenario however is that is seems to signal a sea-change in pricing from Microsoft.
Image Credits: Windows 8 RT via Tornedo500,