Microsoft Begins Taking Windows 8 Pro Upgrade Preorders

Various retail outlets including Microsoft Stores, and Best Buy are now offering preorders of Windows 8 Pro for x86/x64 upgrade copies, Microsoft announced on Friday.

The boxed product, which contains a DVD upgrade disk, costs about $69.99 at U.S. retail outlets. Customers can pay in advance to order the Windows 8 Pro upgrade, but the "general availability" or product release still won't be until Oct. 26 -- that date is the earliest customers can physically get their hands on the upgrade copy.

When the upgrade arrives, it will come in one of five box designs. Microsoft shows off those designs at this Facebook page.

Windows 8 Pro box
[Click on image for larger view.]
New Windows 8 Pro box (one of five designs).

The Windows 8 Pro upgrade is available for Windows 7 users with specific qualifying editions. Those editions are "Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, or Windows 7 Ultimate," according to Microsoft.

Those Windows 7 users who are comfortable upgrading their machines via an online connection, instead of a DVD, can get the Windows 8 Pro upgrade via Microsoft's Windows 8 upgrade assistant for $39.99. That upgrade offer starts on Windows 8's general availability date of October 26.

One catch on the upgrading pricing, both for the retail boxed copies and the online upgrade, is that the offer will end after Jan. 31, 2013. The retail price for the upgrade after that date will be about $199.

Microsoft also has an even lower-cost Windows 8 Pro upgrade offer for consumers that have bought new Windows 7 PCs between June 2, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013. Those having such "qualifying" Windows 7 PCs can upgrade online to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. However, there are some nuances to this deal, namely a registration process, plus the Windows 8 Pro download has to take place before Feb. 28, 2013 or the deal is void.

All of these deals are just for consumers, and not for business users. Consumers can get the discounts on up to five PCs.

According to a released statement by Nick Parker, corporate vice president of Microsoft's OEM Division, Microsoft's original equipment partners are currently working to produce "more than 800 different devices" certified to run the Windows 8 or Windows RT operating systems. OEMs expected to release Windows 8 machines include Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Samsung and Sony, among others.

Windows 8 will be a notable release for Microsoft in that it will run on various device form factors, including desktop PCs, laptops and tablets. It will also appear on new "Ultrabooks," the slim laptops being promoted by Intel. For a glimpse of some of those emerging machines, read "Windows 8 Ultrabooks Gallery: The First Wave."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.