Say what you will about Windows 8; at least the upgrade from Windows 7 is cheap. Or it is for now. After January 31 will be a different story.
Ever since Windows 8's October 26, 2012 launch, Microsoft has been offering retail Windows 8 Pro upgrade DVDs for $69.99. Online upgrades have been even cheaper, at $39.99. And customers who bought new PCs or laptops with Windows 7 preloaded got the best deal of all: If they registered with Microsoft, the online Windows 8 upgrade cost them just $14.99.
Well, put such notions aside. In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft confirmed that when it said its discounted Windows 8 upgrade pricing was for a limited time only, it really meant it.
As previously announced, all of the above prices end on January 31. Starting in February, all editions of Windows 8 will sell for their full list prices, which means the cheapest Windows 8 upgrade will go for $119.99.
Note, however, that unlike the discounted upgrades offered previously, that price just gets you Windows 8, not Windows 8 Pro. If you want the additional Pro features – including BitLocker encryption, domain connectivity, and Hyper-V virtualization, among others – you'll need to shell out a little more for the Pro upgrade edition, priced at $199.99.
If you already have Windows 8 and you want to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, the Pro Pack upgrade will cost you $69.99 through January 31. After that, the price goes up to $99.99.
These list prices are similar to what Microsoft charged to upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows Vista or earlier, but they're still high in today's computing market. The last upgrade for Apple's OS X – currently the only other mainstream desktop OS – cost just $20, and you can upgrade most desktop Linux systems for free.
Still, many customers won't actually upgrade at all. Instead, they'll get their first taste of Windows 8 when they buy a new laptop or PC. Microsoft claims it has sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses so far, with a good chunk of those going to OEMs who plan to bundle the OS with their new kit.
In addition to ending its Windows upgrade discounts, Microsoft will also begin charging $9.99 for its Windows Media Center add-on pack on January 31. Previously it had been a free upgrade for Windows 8 Pro users.
Upgrade pricing for the UK, Europe, and other regions was not available as The Reg went to press. ®