Microsoft Is Looking More Like Apple These Day

Microsoft announced late Monday that current Windows users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99 when the new operating system ships later this year. And Microsoft will throw in Windows Media Center for free. This pricing is a departure from Microsoft’s past offerings and it’s priced very much like Apple does when they release a new operating system.

Microsoft intends to offer the $39.99 upgrade during a promotion set to run through Jan. 31, 2013. It’s a bid to boost fast adoption of Windows 8, and will supposedly tie in with the release of Microsoft’s new Surface tablet.

At the Worldwide Partner Conference yesterday, CEO Steve Balmer announced that Microsoft expects to sell “a few million PC’s” in the coming year. Prices for the Microsoft Surface tablet may have been prematurely released and rumors are rampant claiming the Surface tablet sporting Windows RT, and powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip, will set you back $599 and the Intel powered Ivy Bridge version, which will run Windows 8 Pro, will apparently retail at $999

The $39.99 upgrade price, available to owners of PCs running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, applies to customers who download Windows 8 from Windows.com. A packaged DVD version of the upgrade will be available through retail channels for $69.99 during the promotion.

Many customers will like the new Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant that will lead them through the upgrade process. The Upgrade Assistant, for example, will check to make sure a customer’s PC is ready for Windows 8, check for application and device compatibility issues, and ask what customers want to carry over from their old Windows installation.

Windows 7 users will be able to carry over their Windows settings, personal files and applications. But Windows Vista users will be limited to bringing along Windows settings and personal files, and Windows XP users will be restricted to only personal files.

Microsoft believes that the upgrade experience in Windows 8 will be a breeze by offering a faster experience, a single upgrade path, and compatibility from prior versions of Windows. Once the Windows 8 upgrade process is complete customers will be able to download Windows Media Center for free through the “add features” option within Windows 8 Pro.

Although no ship date has been confirmed, I expect that both Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface Tablet will be available in October, just in time for the holiday season!

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