Windows 8 RP to final upgrade possible, but you still need a license

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 9, 2012
Updated • Jul 9, 2012
Windows, Windows 8, Windows Updates

Microsoft some days ago revealed how existing Windows users can upgrade to the soon to be released Windows 8 operating system. The procedure has been simplified significantly for Windows users, as licensed editions do not play a role anymore to determine the available upgrade edition of the new operating system. Regardless of the existing license, eligible Windows users will always upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.

Microsoft will run a promotion until January 31, 2013 where digital updates will be sold for $40 a piece - with a five per-user upgrade limit - regardless of the original operating system license. This means that Windows XP and Windows 7 Home Basic users pay the same price for the same version that Windows 7 Ultimate users pay.

Windows users who have purchased an eligible PC running Windows after June 2 have options to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $15 instead.

It is furthermore possible to upgrade from  the Windows 8 Release Preview to the final version of the operating system. Some tech sites reported that users of the Windows 8 RP were also eligible to buy the $40 upgrade, and some made it look as if no underlying license was required to purchase the upgrade.

This is without a shadow of doubt not the case. Brandon LeBlanc, Microsoft's Communication Manager for the Windows Platform, notes in a comment on the original upgrade announcement that "people moving from the Windows 8 Release Preview will need to make sure [they] have an underlying license for either Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7".

windows 8 upgrades

It is not clear how this is verified though. Options would be to ask users to enter the product key of the previous operating system version either on the digital shopping site or during the upgrade procedure to make sure a license is available. It can very well be the case that this is just a legal requirement and not one that is actually verified by Microsoft at any point during the purchase or upgrade.

It also needs to be noted that Windows 8 RP users can only migrate their own files when they upgrade, which means that both settings and installed applications will not be carried over. It is not really clear why it is not possible to migrate the data as well. The most likely explanation at this point in time is to avoid incompatibilities between the beta and final version. Still, this could be a big nuisance for users who have been working with the Windows 8 RP for some time.


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  1. ilev said on July 9, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    OEM PCs with Windows 8 pre-installed should ship with a Downgrade to XP/7 dvd.

  2. Gonzo said on July 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Most OEM computers that shipped with Vista and Win 7 did not include an OS DVD. I’d guess that during installation it would check BIOS/UEFI for a SLIC table?

  3. meh said on July 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Microsoft will run a promotion until January 31, 2012

    guess we are too late then :p

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Upsa, corrected,

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