Microsoft reveals Windows 8.1 pricing, brings back full retail versions

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 17, 2013
Updated • Sep 18, 2013
Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft announced the pricing and packaging of the upcoming Windows 8.1 operating system today. According to the announcement, Windows 8.1 will be available for $119.99, and Windows 8.1 Pro for $199.99 both as a download and retail.

Users can still convert from the regular version to Pro for $99.99, and purchase the Media Center upgrade for $9.99 provided that they are Pro users.

To clarify, upgrades from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 are free.

Interesting from a system builder perspective is the fact that Microsoft will make available full retail copies of the operating system again, something that it did not make available when it released Windows 8 in October 2012.

While customers had options to purchase so called system builder editions, these versions were not that easy to find online and Microsoft seems to have put most efforts into pushing out the upgrades instead.

This is good news for users who want to run the operating system in a virtual environment, install it on a PC that they have build from scratch, or install it on a second hard drive partition.

What about upgrades from previous operating systems? Windows 7 users can upgrade to Windows 8.1 using retail DVDs or downloads. They won't be able to keep their programs though, but files will remain available.

The company notes that Windows 8.1 has not been designed for installations on devices running Windows XP or Vista. Microsoft recommends that users buy the retail DVD of Windows 8.1 and do a clean install of the operating system. That's not a confirmation that direct upgrades won't work though, and it remains to be seen if this is indeed the case or if there are workarounds that allow you to upgrade directly from XP or Vista to Windows 8.1

Users of older Windows operating systems have another option. They can get Windows 8 instead, upgrade their operating systems to it, and then use the in-store upgrade to upgrade to Windows 8.1.

Closing Words

I welcome the return of retail versions of Windows 8.1. While it is certainly true that most users either bought a PC running Windows 8 right away or bought an upgrade to it because they had access to an older version of Windows, the lack of a retail copy limited a subset of the user base.

Considering that XP and Vista users are more likely to upgrade, it is not really clear why Microsoft did not put more effort into improving the upgrade experience for users of those operating systems.

Now read: The major changes in Windows 8.1


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  1. XenoSilvano said on September 19, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    @ – Martin Brinkmann

    You’ll have to excuse my lapse in cognitive faculties, I woke up with a mild headache that day,
    I feel a great deal of confusion whenever I get them. (that’s right, blame it on the headache rather than my lack of effective comprehensive reading).

    It only dawned on me after reading your message in the reply notification alert that I received that I remembered that you had already mentioned to me about a week ago that Windows 8.1 would be made available through the Windows Store, whops, it happens even to the best of us.

    ‘Users can still convert from the ‘regular version’ to Pro for $99.99′ – lol, yeah this is the sentence that muddled me up, I mistook ‘regular version’ to mean Windows 8.

    I’m surprised that it costs $20 more to upgrade from Windows 8.1 to 8.1 pro in comparison to simply buying a full version of Windows 8.1 Pro for $200. Early adopters of Windows 8 got a good deal in comparison with the sort of prices consumers will have to pay now.

  2. Sleeping said on September 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    I bought Windows 8 when it costed 29€ or something like that, but never installed it. Can I do a clean install using Windows 8.1 ISO using the product code I bought a year ago? Thanks :)

    1. J Beckett said on September 19, 2013 at 6:18 am

      I don’t think the 8 product key would work with 8.1 installations. you, however, could install 8 then do the jump to 8.1 from there. then again, I’ve been wrong previously.

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      That’s not clear yet, but very likely.

  3. Ficho said on September 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Thanks for information about vulnerability in IE.
    I guess I’ll wait for the patch.

    1. ilev said on September 18, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      Wrong decision. IE’s vulnerability is already being attacked in the wild.
      Run the fix it.

  4. ilev said on September 18, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Microsoft lost $500 million on the $14.99 Windows 8 pro upgrades, last quarter, so now they are into full prices.

    p.s There is an urgent IE 6,7,8,9,10,11 (YES,IE 11 too) fix it. Which shows you the copy-cat programmers working at Microsoft at their glory.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 18, 2013 at 8:36 am

      What do you mean by copy-cat programmers?

      1. ilev said on September 18, 2013 at 9:19 am

        I mean the IE11 still uses code copied from IE4 thru…IE10.

  5. XenoSilvano said on September 18, 2013 at 7:35 am

    WHAT (!?) $100 I thought Windows 8.1 was a complimentary update, what’s all this talk about money?

    People said that this sort of thing would happen, first you pay $80 to beta test Windows 8,
    then another $100 to have a solid Gold Master OS.

    Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 = $100 HA,HA,HA!

    1. J Beckett said on September 19, 2013 at 6:16 am

      What (!?) You did not even bother to read carefully (!?) HA HA HA

      1. XenoSilvano said on September 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm

        I’m sure anyone else could have made the same mistake.

        I mistook the term ‘regular version’ to mean ‘Windows 8’ rather than Window 8.1,

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 18, 2013 at 8:23 am

      No, if you have Windows 8, you get a free upgrade.

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