Just over a year after first introducing Windows 8 and Windows RT to the press at their BUILD conference, the run-up to the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT has reached its end. In what’s certain to be the most significant Windows release for Microsoft since Windows Vista – and likely also the most polarizing – Windows 8 and Windows RT are officially being released to the public today. With this launch Microsoft is looking to make their mark on the surge in popularity in tablets over the last couple of years, while leaving another mark on their users with the most significant UI overhaul since Windows 95.

For users looking to jump into Windows 8 and Windows RT, there will be several ways to get it. First and foremost of course is to buy a new device – be it a PC or a tablet – with Windows preinstalled. All of Microsoft’s major retail partners will have swapped out their Windows 7 system inventory for Windows 8 inventory, and will begin selling systems pre-loaded with Windows 8/RT today.

On that note, a few of Micrsoft’s retail partners will have various Windows 8 promotions going on. The highlight of which will almost certainly be Intel’s: “Trade In/Trade Up– Bring in a working laptop (any PC as long as it can power on) and get at least $100 towards a new Intel-Inspired Ultrabook.” We don’t have any additional information on this offer at this time, so be sure to check Microsoft’s website for more details.

Windows 8 SKUs
  Windows 8 Upgrade Windows 7/Vista/XP Upgrade Full Version Price
Windows 8 Pro Pack X - - $69
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade (Boxed) - X - $69
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade (Download) - X - $39
Windows 8 (Core) OEM - - X $99
Windows 8 Professional OEM - - X $139

Meanwhile for those of you partaking in self-installs, Microsoft’s promotional pricing for Windows 8 upgrades will be continuing until January 31st of 2013. To that end, the previously mentioned pre-orders have already begun shipping from some e-tailers for delivery today. This goes for both the upgrade and full editions. Retailers will also start selling boxed copies of the upgrade editions of Windows 8, while specialty retailers (e.g. Microcenter) are also expected to be carrying full editions.

Of course the real option just about everyone has been waiting for is the download option directly through Microsoft, which should be active by the time this post goes live. Microsoft will be selling Windows 8 Pro upgrades for $39.99, some $30 (43%) below the retail boxed price. Furthermore Microsoft has put up a handy upgrade FAQ that spells out just how the process is working; the downloadable upgrade will be a purchase available in Microsoft’s upgrade assistant, with the assistant being responsible for downloading and running the Windows installer.

Importantly, the assistant has the option to back up the Windows installer to either a USB drive or an ISO, so it will be possible to keep the installer for future re-use (reformats and the like). Also of note, the $15 upgrade offer for recent PC buyers will work the same way, with buyers effectively getting the same upgrade package at a cheaper price.

All Windows 8 buyers will also want to pay attention to Microsoft’s free Windows Pro Media Center Pack option. As you may recall, Microsoft is stripping out Windows’ built-in DVD playback and Media Center functionality from Windows 8, and placing it in to a separate Media Center Pack. In order to ease the transition, as part of their promotional pricing Microsoft will be giving away the Media Center Pack for free until the end of January, so Windows 8 Pro users will want to be sure to hop on that offer before it expires.

Finally, for our coverage of Windows 8/RT, we have broken it up into several pieces. For Windows RT coverage we have reviews of Microsoft’s Surface, their in-house ARM-based tablet, along with Asus’s VivoTab RT. We also have a dedicated Windows RT review that focuses on the complete Windows RT experience from a tablet perspective. Meanwhile for Windows 8 and the x86 laptop/desktop experience, we will have our traditional performance guide up later today, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

Source: Microsoft

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • Dribble - Saturday, October 27, 2012 - link

    3 replies.
    USB removal goes wrong - never had a problem, works fine as windows 7 does know how to handle this -it'll clear cache, etc before sleeping or hibernating.
    Hibernate is better with no reason why. Can't answer that as no reason given - sleep basically does the same thing only faster.
    Laptop encryption - fair enough but that's not a problem for me or most people.
  • Compddd - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    Is MS charging tax on the download version of Win8?
  • HilbertSpace - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    Yes (in Canada anyway...)
  • Zodiark1593 - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    I'm kinda torn here.

    The performance improvements alone would be worth the upgrade, but Metro by itself is so butt ugly on a desktop/laptop and cumbersome to use with the mouse. I put a good bit of pride in my clean desktop, I really wish there was a way to disable Metro altogether and get my start menu back.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    You could try this:

    I need to give that a shot, actually, as I really miss my Start Menu on Windows 8.
  • imaheadcase - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    The "performance improvements" won't be noticable at all to you. If you upgrade based on that, don't. Its like FPS in games, you really thing 200fps vs 205fps is going to help you out somehow?

    The only notable improvement is boot/hibernate, which no desktop user cares about honestly. I can see the MS commercial now "YES i can get to logon screen 5 seconds faster now than before!" But the user takes a minute to remember password.
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, October 27, 2012 - link

    I like hybrid boot quite a bit on desktops, TYVM. I appreciate faster boot times, and I don't need to stop and think to remember my password. I can't think of anyone I know that does, at least for their Windows login - they use it all the time. Maybe if they needed to remember their password to a specific site...

    Anyway it almost sounds to me like you're complaining about performance improvements. If it was 5% SLOWER than Win7, people would be pissing up a storm. Even though, as you say, it wouldn't be noticeable typically - although I have to question your "200 fps". For a cheap software upgrade it is a nice boost to performance, especially since in demanding games you're probably not getting 200FPS at very high settings. If you are, you probably shit gold coins and already have 4 copies of Windows 8 just for the hell of it. One for each GPU you own.

    If you're getting more typical frame rates, out of a more affordable system, the extra performance is very welcome. Especially if you get one of the download-only upgrades and back it up to a DVD. This is even more true if you recently bought your system and are eligible for the $15 Pro upgrade! I can't think of any component I can upgrade for $15 that would give me this kind of performance boost.

    Oh, and for the consumer purchasing a budget machine with a mechanical HDD, the difference between Win7 cold boot and Win8 hybrid boot is pretty substantial. Especially if it is a laptop, and they just buy whatever cheap model they can afford.
  • Zkal - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    I'm surprised how smooth "Metro" is on desktop. It's not ideal by far but not the catastrophe that many people said it was. I'll have to use more of this to see how good/bad it really is but positive surprise. Maybe it's because I had low expectations :P
  • dijuremo - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    So why does MS have to make everything so complicated. Their download upgrade offer states any machine running XP, Vista, 7 is eligible for the $39.99 upgrade. Why don't they provide an option to purchase multiple keys at the same time?

    The stupid Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant has to be run each time to purchase a single key. I do consulting for an office and they want 23 copies, why do I have to run the assistant 23 times and enter a CC number every single time to be able to upgrade all PCs. There is no reason why you should be penalized with purchasing a $69.99 upgrade en-masse (over 70% price hike vs download) to end up with several stickers or cds... grrrrr
  • KITH - Friday, October 26, 2012 - link

    Technically, the limit is 5 per customer. So you shouldn't use it 23 times.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now