Windows 8.1 brings back full retail versions as Windows SKUs change again

Windows 8.1 logoMicrosoft has announced the pricing and packaging for Windows 8.1. Retail packages of Windows 8.1 will have a retail price of $119.99, and Windows 8.1 Pro will be $199.99. The Pro Pack, to convert 8.1 to 8.1 Pro, will be $99.99. Media Center will also remain available to Pro users for $9.99. As disclosed in May, upgrading from 8.0 to 8.1 will be no-cost.

These packages will be full, supported, retail copies, suitable for installation on systems without an operating system at all, as well as for use within virtual machines.

Windows 8 scrapped full Windows versions, with retail packages being only upgrades. Microsoft's rationale for this was that since almost every PC ships with Windows already, and is hence eligible for an upgrade, the demand for full non-upgrade versions was negligible. The closest thing to a full version was the System Builder package, designed primarily for small system builders to preinstall on systems that they then sold to third parties.

This scheme was awkward for those seeking to virtualize the operating system and those building their own PCs. The readily available retail upgrades weren't suitable for these roles, as they required a previous operating system in order to qualify for the upgrade. The System Builder edition was suitable, thanks to a new Personal Use provision, but the System Builder edition was harder to find. Microsoft says that the reinstatement of the retail package should make these scenarios much easier.

These boxed copies won't, however, be ideal for upgraders. Although Windows 8 can be installed as an upgrade to Windows 7 (preserving most settings and applications in the process), Windows 8.1 cannot. So if you stuck with Windows 7 because you felt that Windows 8 was too unpolished, but think that Windows 8.1's changes make it viable, you'll probably be better off tracking down a copy of Windows 8 and buying that, rather than 8.1, and then upgrading for free to 8.1.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Microsoft, OSes, Windows 8.1

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