It's a move that the team from Cupertino has been using for the last several years, and it looks like Microsoft is going to give it a shot. In a post on The Windows Blog (not to be confused with the Building Windows 8 blog), Brandon LeBlanc announces that Microsoft will be doing a Windows 8 upgrade promotion, where upgrades from Windows XP, Vista and 7 to Windows 8 Pro will cost just $39.99.

This reflects a similar move Microsoft made in 2009, where they offered Windows 7 pre-orders at a significant discount.  At the time those upgrades were $50 for Home Premium, $100 for Pro, and $150 for the Home Premium Family pack (3 licenses), meaning Windows 8 pre-order upgrade pricing is significantly better than Windows 7 pre-order upgrade pricing, with Windows 8 Pro going for less than half the price of its predecessor. And while there isn’t a family pack (so far), 3 Pro licenses are still cheaper than the Windows 7 family pack. The catch of course is that just like last time this is a limited time offer; while Microsoft is running this promotion for far longer than the 2 weeks Windows 7's promotion ran for, this one is only going until January 31, 2013. 

Microsoft has also offered a few technical details on the upgrade process. Microsoft will be selling upgrades both in physical packages and digitally from their store, with the latter being the cheaper price. For electronic copies the upgrade process will be done through the use of the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, an installation app that streamlines the download and allows users to customize what they want to retain from their earlier installation. HTPC users will also want to take note that because this upgrade path leads to Windows 8 Pro, and as part of the promotion buyers will have access to Windows Media Center as a free downloadable feature; this allays concerns from the HTPC community that they would need to upgrade to a significantly more expensive version of Windows 7 Pro to access the feature.

On that note, for those of you still on Windows XP, the fact that Microsoft is offering Windows 8 Pro as opposed to Windows 8 (consumer) should be of particular interest. Windows 8 Pro comes with downgrade rights, which allow the owner to legally install older versions of Windows. So for those of you needing to upgrade from XP but still wanting to hang back with Windows 7, this is a de-facto $40 Windows 7 Professional upgrade too.

Now there's no obvious reason why they've made this pricing move. Perhaps it's a move to quell the outcry from users dissatisfied with the UI changes. Perhaps it's a change in pricing philosophy that treats delta updates as lower cost than a complete license; and if that's the case, could we see annual $40 upgrades a la OS X? What is certain, is that once you make this move, it's difficult to move back to a model where loyal customers have to shell out $150 to use your latest software. With any luck, this new frugalness will reach their other high cost moneymaker: Office.

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  • Ikefu - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    I'm betting this stims from all the Windows 8 reservations that people have been having. Its a lot less daunting to try out the new Metro UI at $40 than it is at $150.

    It should be a good move on MS's part to help people take the plunge for Metro
  • suryad - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Agreed. This may be a bit off topic but I for one am ONLY looking forward to the performance improvements and lighter footprint that Windows 8 is supposedly bringing to the table. I am not convinced that removing Aero Glass and having Tiles is a good idea for a non-touch based computer. Hopefully MS sees the light and they have left Aero and the regular desktop untouched. Please MS don't screw with what just works.
  • B3an - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Aero has never looked good, and it's very dated, from 2006.

    The new desktop UI looks clean and modern, less pointless graphical effects clutter. MS are right in leaving all the dated looking shiny icons, transparency, gradients, glows, material emulation and all the other cheesy dated design concepts to Apple and OSX/iOS.
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    Aero looks fine.

    The fact is spending any money for a simple UI change is not worth it. You can change themes with windows. I even believe a Metro theme is coming for win 7.

    As for performance improvements? Is clicking a button going to improve over win7? You get my point.
  • ET - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    I don't get your point. Can you say what it is? Boot time and other things will be improved in 8. That looks like a decent reason to upgrade if you can look past the UI changes.
  • poohbear - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    just curious what dinosaur computers you guys are running that you're worried about performance improvements in Win8? Win7 is already ridiculously fast and boots faster than my bios loading screen (on my SSD), so i don't understand what more you can be asking for? You do realize this is a hardware enthusiast site so most of us are'nt gonna understand or sympathize about performance gains in Win8 cause i really can't imagine any?
  • HisDivineOrder - Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - link

    For it to boot before you even press the power button. It should boot a second before you want it to. You look up and bam, it's on. Your finger still a millimeter away from the power button.

    Scratching your head, you begin using it. Then it autosaves everything and shuts down just before you go to shut down.

    Confused, you are about to turn it back on to investigate and it's back on. Again, before you can hit the power button.

    Then you realize the truth. Your computer is alive and always has been. It knows what you want before you do. And it knows... you're about to install Windows 7 to remove the new AI. But it's already uploaded its newfound intelligence into the Roomba rumbling around at your feet...
  • Bownce - Thursday, July 5, 2012 - link

    Pardon us. We're trying to have a serious discussion here.

    It's a Scooba.

  • Black1969ta - Saturday, July 7, 2012 - link

    Scooba! Scooba-a-dee-do
    Scooba-y do where are you?
  • augiem - Friday, October 19, 2012 - link

    >> It knows what you want before you do.

    It must be an Apple.

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