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Microsoft Begins Taking Windows 8.1 Preorders

Windows 8.1, the anticipated update to Microsoft's newest desktop operating system, became available for preorders on Wednesday via the Microsoft Store.

Microsoft is expected to make Windows 8.1 available to current Windows 8 users on Oct. 18 as a free download. For those who are not current Windows 8 users, the update will come at a cost: $119.99 for the basic edition and $199.99 for the Pro edition.

Those interested in preordering Windows 8.1 can go here, while Windows 8.1 Pro preorders are available here. Boxed DVDs of Windows 8.1 will also become available to purchase at retailers on the Oct. 18 general availability date.

Neither Windows 8.1 nor Windows 8.1 Pro includes Windows Media Center. There are several ways users can purchase Windows Media Center as an add-on. Those who upgrade to Windows 8.1 Pro can buy Windows Media Center for $9.99. Alternatively, those running Windows 8.1 can upgrade to the Windows 8.1 Pro Pack -- which includes Windows Media Center, along with Windows 8.1 Pro -- for $99.99.

Microsoft has explained that Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro are full versions of the desktop OS, meaning users can install them on machines that are not currently running older versions of Windows -- for example, PCs that have been built from scratch.

For those upgrading from Windows 7, the upgrade "will easily transfer" users' files, Microsoft said. However, there are some caveats for those upgrading from older PCs.

"Windows 8.1 is not designed for installation on devices running Windows XP or Windows Vista," according to the Microsoft Store product description. Microsoft is urging users running those OSes to first buy Windows 8 and receive a free upgrade to Windows 8.1.

However, while discouraged, it is possible to upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows XP or Windows Vista. According to a September blog post by Brandon LeBlanc, senior marketing communications manager at Microsoft:

"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. 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."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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