Windows 8 to become Cheapest Microsoft OS?

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 13, 2012
Updated • Jul 13, 2012
Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft already managed to surprise a large part of the Windows community by announcing a simplified and cheap upgrade process. Instead of having to juggle around with different versions and their upgrade paths, the company decided to make it easy for everyone. All Windows XP, Vista and 7 users can upgrade for the same price and to the same version. The price? $39.99 for a digital download of Windows 8 Pro, Microsoft's flagship consumer version of the operating system. And while that's a promotional offer, it is almost five times cheaper than the retail price of the Windows 7 Professional upgrade.

On yesterday's Windows Weekly show Microsoft insiders Paul Thurott and Mary Jo Foley revealed that this may not be the only surprise announcement in regards to the upcoming operating system. According to them, Microsoft could also do away with retail media to only offer so called System Builder Kits.

A system builder kit can be acquired if a PC is build at the same time. It offers the same feature set as a retail version, but it available for a fraction of the price. Initially only available to hardware partners, OEM versions have found their way to market places such as Amazon or eBay so that they are practically available to everyone.

Microsoft has not confirmed any of this, and we do not know yet if this is actually going to happen or not. If it happens, it is almost certain that the operating system will be offered at levels that are closer to current generation OEM versions, and not retail products. If you look at Amazon or eBay, you will notice that OEM versions are usually between 50% and 75% cheaper than retail versions.

The big question is if a switch to OEM only versions will be accompanied by a price reduction. Will we see OEM-like prices for retail versions of the Windows 8 operating system? The low upgrade price seems to suggest that Microsoft wants to push Windows 8, and one of the best ways to do that, would be to offer the full version for a lower than expected price as well. And with the new Windows Store revenue stream, it could even turn out to be profitable to Microsoft.

You need to keep in mind that two versions of Windows 8 will be made available for retail channels. Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, with the Pro version more expensive than the standard version.

My guess? The Pro version will be available for less than $100 when the operating system comes out. What's your take on the rumor?


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  1. Charles said on July 18, 2012 at 5:21 am

    I see a lot of interesting articles about windows lately. You can never tell what Microsoft will do. This windows 8 is a bit of a new and innovative move on behalf of Microsoft. However you might say that windows is a bit late and jumped on the band wagon after Apple Beat them to the punch on the tablet market. An OS takes about 5-10 years to fully develop. I have been trying out windows 8 for about a week and I kind of like it. Since I downloaded the release preview on my “Vista” box I decided I like it. It seemed to make my older computer run faster. It seems like ever since windows 3.1 came out, that every version of windows was at best a mediocre improvement on the last one with no real innovation, then Microsoft comes out with Windows 8. I just had to try it to see what all the fuss was about. I think the average user or even a new user will like it. I bet even older people will like it if they try it long enough (My age is 54).

  2. b003 said on July 17, 2012 at 3:39 am

    Offset by hardware requirements.

  3. Gonzo said on July 15, 2012 at 4:14 am

    Of the 5 computers in my home 3 of them are custom built:

    1 – Server/Media Center running WHS 2011
    2 – Mini ITX Media Center clients running Win 7.

    MS has killed Windows Home Server and made it clear that Windows Media Center will die with Win 8. I can’t say that any of my custom built systems will be running Windows after 2016 (when WHS reaches End of Life).

    Toss in the promise of something like the Raspberry Pi and my setup could be entirely different from my current “traditional” setup.

  4. Bob said on July 14, 2012 at 1:05 am

    The tablet boasts no DVD writer, a processor probably on par with the atom processor that came packaged with yesterdays net books, and no storage capacity resulting in everyone having to use cloud based applications. A touch pad screen may be better than a built in touch pad but it doesn’t beat a mouse for convenience. I just can’t see businesses switching to Metro either. I would also like to see all hard core gamers playing demanding games on a tablet. Bill Gates retired and Microsoft is now spiraling down.

  5. berttie said on July 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Tend to agree with Stonecold. M$ know Metro is going to be a hard sell outside of tablets and phones so is selling it cheap to lure reluctant PC and notrebook users and keep the competition at bay.

  6. Stonecold said on July 13, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    Well even if they do make everything about it cheap there’s an obvious reason. Micro$oft deciding that they should take the Linux route? Nah. They know this OS will be a flop. Honestly I prefer the theme of Windows ME to the Metro theme (yes, I prefer even this:

    They know it won’t sell well, so they’re trying to make it the most popular operating system so people don’t resort to Mac or Linux (I use Linux btw).

  7. Morely the IT Guy said on July 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    @kalmly: Here’s some news. Via has tweaked Android OS for optimum use with a keyboard and mouse (on the ARM architecture). Currently sold out, the Via is a $50 platform that will perform at least as well as most desktop Windows PCs for most purposes. All you need is a case (I’m going to use a wodden “shadwo box” with a glass top), keyboard, mouse, and monitor of some type (composite video, 15-pin VGA, or HDMI) and you ahve a fully-operation battle station, er, I mean, computer.

  8. kalmly said on July 13, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I don’t care.

    Maybe good for gadgets. I don’t have gadgets. I have a computer – a real one – two actually. I need a real OS.

    I suppose it is “news”. But I’m really tired of Windows8. I’d like to see some other news once in a while.

  9. Roman ShaRP said on July 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    No way. So far this OS is unacceptable for me at any price. To make me use it, somebody have to pay me on a regular basis.

    Also, no revenue from me to Windows or other online stores.

    Information have to be free :)

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