As PC users ponder whether to step to Windows 8.1, Microsoft this week laid out pricing and other upgrade specifics. Although Windows 8.0 users will be able to get free updates from the Windows Store starting October 18, users of Windows 7 and earlier will pay $119.99 for either a download or a retail packaged DVD product, or $199.99 for the Pro version under either scenario.
“Windows 8.1 will be a must-have update for [Windows 8] devices — bringing new features and improvements such as greater personalization, Bing Smart Search, and more than 20 new and improved Microsoft apps and services,” contended Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft’s communications manager, in a blog post.
LeBlanc also pointed out that, Unlike the “upgrade versions” of Windows 8 that Microsoft is selling at the $119.99 and $199.99 price points, the copies of Windows 8.1 sold at retail and online for users of Windows 7 and earlier will be “full version software.”
“This shift allows more flexibility for customers in specific technical scenarios and is in response to feedback we’ve received. It will be easier for those consumers who want to build PCs from scratch, run Windows 8.1 in Virtual Machine (VM) environments, or run Windows 8.1 on a second hard drive partition,” according to LeBlanc.
Two of those approaches — running Windows 8.1 in a VM or a second hard drive partition — are strategies often bandied about for users who want to start adopting 8.1 without losing their existing Windows 8, 7, Vista or XP software environments.
For direct upgrades from Windows 7, users will find that Windows 8.1 “will bring along their files, but will require them to reinstall desktop apps including Microsoft Office,” LeBlanc said.
Installation of 8.1 on XP and Vista PCs: ‘Not Recommended’
Users of Windows XP and Vista will also be able to install the Windows 8.1 “full version software,” but Microsoft is not even “recommending” that they do so.
“Windows 8.1 is not designed for installation on devices running Windows XP or Windows Vista. Although not designed or recommended for devices running Windows XP or Windows Vista, consumers still wanting to upgrade from Windows XP or Windows Vista should buy the retail DVD instead of using the download and boot from the DVD to do a clean install of Windows 8.1,” LeBlanc said.
“Note: files, settings and programs will not transfer — Consumers will need to back up their files and settings, perform clean installation, and then reinstall their files, settings and programs.”
On the other hand, if you decide to buy a new Windows 8.1 PC later this year, you will be able to add the Windows 8.1 Pro Pack for $99.99, and Windows Media Center for an extra $9.99.
At this point, Microsoft has not annouced plans to provide users of older versions of Windows with any promotional discounts for upgrading to Windows 8.1, along the lines of the $40 upgrade offer formerly extended to Windows 7, Vista and XP users for upgrading to Windows 8.
Currently, users of Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP can continue to download the ISO files for the Consumer Preview edition of Windows 8.1 free of charge, and to convert these files into installation media stored on a DVD or USB flash drive for installation on to their PCs.
However, as previously stated by Microsoft, users who have installed Consumer Preview will need to reinstall their apps when moving to the full version of Windows 8.1, whereas those who are stepping directly from Windows 8 will not face this requirement.