Microsoft over the years has always charged a significant price to upgrade your copy of Windows. Yes there were short term deals like the “Family Pack” and the student discount was always available, but the bulk of the upgrade options were expensive.
Windows 7 upgrade licenses ranged from $90 to $250 depending on the version which went from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Professional and Enterprise. Confusing? You bet.
The result of this is that no-one upgraded. Not literally no-one, but a tiny tiny percentage bothered to upgrade their existing XP/Vista machines to Windows 7. The vast majority simply waiting until they purchased a new PC and then received Windows 7 on it.
Firstly, they have simplified the versions of Windows 8. To essentially just 2. Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Windows 8 is the is the full Windows deal, with a desktop and the ability to load all your regular programs on it, Windows 8 Pro add the features for encryption, virtualization, PC management and domain connectivity. So if you need these features, get Pro, otherwise regular is all you need.
There is the tablet specific version, Windows RT, but this won’t be available for general sale, just preloaded on specific tablets, and an Enterprise version, but again, this won’t be around to confuse regular consumers.
Finally Microsoft has announced realistic upgrade pricing for those wishing to try out Windows 8, with the availability of any PC running Windows XP, Vista or 7 (any version it seems) able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99 for the download version, or $69.99 for the shop bought DVD version. These prices are available until January 2013 – after that hopefully Microsoft won’t go back to their $150 days.
As before there is a Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant that will tell you if your machine is capable, and flag any compatibility issues.
Windows 8 with its Metro interface is much better suited to tablets, and by that I mean one of the newly announced Surface tablets, not a retro-install on ‘2011’ tablets where much of the hardware that will benefit Windows8 is missing. And best of all for tablets is Windows RT (Windows on Arm) but this can only bought with new hardware anyway.
This somewhat counters the upgrade argument, but don’t forget, underneath the new finger-friendly interface, sits a regular Windows desktop capable of running all the programs you’re used to having.