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Windows 8 Upgrade Price Hikes Coming Feb. 1

January 31 is the date to remember for those consumers still on the fence about upgrading to Windows 8.

That's the date when Microsoft's upgrade promotional offers will end for the two Windows 8 editions. A few deals are being offered as part of those promos. One of those deals is for consumers upgrading to Windows 8 Pro. They can pay $39.99 for an online download or $69.99 for a DVD copy of the upgrade. In February, though, the cost to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro will jump to $199.99. Similarly, the upgrade price to Windows 8 will jump to $119.99 in February.

Another deal pertains to consumers who bought Windows 7 PCs. Consumers who bought a new Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013 are eligible to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99, according to this limited-time offer.

Microsoft also has an upgrade deal for those consumers who bought a Windows 8 copy or a Windows 8-based PC, but who want to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro. Those users can upgrade by buying the "Windows 8 Pro Pack" through Windows 8 itself, using the "add features" function. The cost of the Windows 8 Pro Pack upgrade is $69.99, but that cost will increase to $99.99 in February.

According to Microsoft's blog post describing the upgrade deals, getting to the "add features" function in Windows 8 requires just typing the phrase, "add features to Windows 8," at the start screen. Some users have reported seeing messages such as, "couldn't process your order," after using that function to upgrade their systems, but it's not clear why that occurred. Microsoft provides this support number list for such problems.

Another consideration for upgraders is whether they want Windows Media Center for Windows 8 or not. Windows Media Center is an entertainment hub that supports TV, music CD playback and DVD movie playback. Until Jan. 31, 2013, Windows Media Center is available as a no-cost upgrade to those running Windows 8 Pro. However, in February, it will cost an extra $9.99 to get it.

Microsoft's Windows 8 upgrade FAQ cautions that upgraders to Windows 8 won't automatically get Windows Media Center. They have to apply the "Windows 8 Media Center Pack" after the upgrade, unless they are upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro, in which case the Windows 8 Media Center Pack gets included. The Windows Media Center deal isn't for volume licensees, according to Microsoft.

"The free Windows Media Center deal can only be installed on retail and OEM versions of Windows 8 Pro," a Microsoft spokesperson explained via e-mail. "Volume license versions of Windows 8 Pro are not eligible."

It's still somewhat shocking to recall that Microsoft doesn't support DVD playback in its own Windows Media Player for Windows 8. DVDs can only be played either through Windows 8 Media Center or by third-party DVD players that are compatible with Windows 8. The reason for the DVD playback omission in Windows Media Player for Windows 8 has to do with royalty costs, which Microsoft describes in this FAQ.

Another important date to recall is Feb. 28, 2013. Purchasers have to register and download the Windows 8 upgrades before that date or all of these deals become void.

The upgrades are limited to consumers, with up to five upgrade licenses permitted per customer. Surprisingly, it is possible to upgrade to Windows 8 all the way back from Windows XP Service Pack 3, as well as Windows Vista or Windows 7. Typically, upgrades are possible just two generations back for consumers, but Microsoft seems to have made an exception with Windows 8.

"Other than Windows 7, Windows XP was the most successful OS in the history of Microsoft from a user install base perspective," the Microsoft spokesperson explained. "Given it is one of the most successful releases, we did not want to prevent this loyal, large customer base from experiencing all the great new features and functionality of Windows 8 providing their systems meet technical specs."

No deals seem to be associated with the System Builder edition of Windows 8. That edition is designed for people who are building their own PCs. The System Builder edition is sold through retailers. Users can move the System Builder operating system to other machines that they own per the licensing, according to this Microsoft forum post.

Microsoft clearly wants to prod consumers to take the Windows 8 plunge. Earlier this month, Microsoft claimed it had sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses, but it's not clear how many of those copies of Windows 8 are being used and how many are being warehoused by original equipment manufacturers.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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