If you’re looking at running Windows 8 on your existing PC, Microsoft is now offering upgrades to Windows 8 Pro — including Media Center Pro, for DVD and Blu-ray disc playback — both online and in stores at special introductory pricing. Through January 31, the Windows 8 Pro upgrade will be available for $39.99 as a download and $69.99 in retail stores, said Fabien Mousseau, a Microsoft executive, speaking with NotebookReview at Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch in New York City on Thursday.
If you take part in either offer, you’ll also be able to get a free download of the Windows 8 Media Center Pack, an add-on which includes codecs (coder/decoders) for playing back DVD and Blu-ray discs.
For most users, Media Center is the main advantage of Window 8 Pro over the standard edition of Windows 8, according to Mousseau.
Unlike Windows 7, Windows 8 does not include Media Center in its core OS, a decision reached by Microsoft for licensing fee reasons. Windows 8 Standard does come with Windows Media Player. To download Windows 8 Media Center, though, you need Windows 8 Pro.
Alternatively, software containing DVD and Blu-ray codecs is also available through third-party providers.
Do You Really Need To Join a Domain, or Boot from a VHD Image?
Yet Windows 8 Pro — an edition originally envisioned for tech enthusiasts — adds other features which you might or might not really want or need, such as BitLocker and EFS encryption, for security’s sake, and the ability to join domains, boot from VHD images, and sideload Windows Store apps.
Meanwhile, for the moment at least, Microsoft isn’t planning any offers for downloading updates to Windows 8 Standard, according to Mousseau. Some of the new Intel-based Windows 8 tablets, ultrabooks and all-in-ones now available for sale will ship with Windows 8 Standard, and others, with Windows 8 Pro.
However, Microsoft’s PC maker partners have made sure that users will be able to play DVDs on all Windows 8 PCs outfitted with optical drives, sometimes through software supplied by drive manufacturers, he said.
Microsoft’s Windows 8 Pro upgrade is designed to work with previous Windows OS which include Windows 7, Vista, and XP.
A Cheaper Upgrade Deal for $14.99
If you buy (or you plan to buy) one of the last remaining Windows 7 PCs, you can get the Windows Pro upgrade for even less.
The price of a Windows 8 Pro upgrade is only $14.99 for any Windows 7 PC purchased between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013. Microsoft is also offering an Enterprise edition of Windows 8, along with Windows RT, a version for ARM-based tablets such as Microsoft’s new Surface.
Windows RT, though, is only available aboard ARM tablets. It can’t be purchased separately.