Microsoft prices Windows 8.1 starting at $119.99

Microsoft prices Windows 8.1 starting at $119.99

Summary: Those running Windows 8 now will be able to get Windows 8.1 for free. But 8.1 will cost everyone else between $119.99 and $199.99 (for Pro).


Microsoft announced a few months ago that Windows 8.1 will be free upgrade for anyone already running Windows 8. That still holds true.


But today, September 17, company officials shared more on how much Windows 8.1 will cost for those running an older version of Windows. For those running Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7, Windows 8.1 will cost $119.99. Windows 8.1 Pro will cost $199.99. These prices or for either a download from or as retail-packaged DVD product sold at retail. These are the same prices Microsoft charged users of older versions of Windows for the Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro upgrades.

There are a couple new wrinkles worth noting around Windows 8.1 pricing, however.

First, Microsoft is offering "full version software at retail this time around. This means there's no requirement for users to be running a previous version of Windows in order to get these prices. (In the past, Microsoft offered those running a previous version of Windows an "upgrade version," and others a "full" version.) Microsoft officials said they're making this change due to feedback from customers "in specific technical scenarios." Specifically, this benefits users who want to build PCs from scratch, run Windows 8.1 in virtual-machine environments and/or run Windows 8.1 on a second hard drive partition on the hardware of their choice.

Secondly, Microsoft already offered some guidance regarding what users should expect in moving from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1. Those who installed the consumer preview version of Windows 8.1 will need to reinstall their apps (Metro-Style and desktop) when moving from the preview to the RTM bits on both Intel and ARM hardware, officials said. If you didn't install the preview and want to go straight from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, you won't have to reinstall apps. That guidance remains correct.

It turns out, those running Windows 7 who want to move to Windows 8.1 are going to have to reinstall their desktop apps, too -- including Microsoft Office. They'll be able to bring along all their files but not their apps, according to today's blog post.

Microsoft is advising users that, even though their PCs running XP and Vista may be able to support Windows 8.1, they are not recommending they upgrade to Windows 8.1. That doesn't mean users can't do this or that Microsoft won't support users who opt to do this. They're just advising against it, claiming that the older hardware plus Windows 8.1 won't make for an optimal experience. If a user does go ahead and upgrade from XP or Vista to Windows 8.1, Microsoft is advising them to buy the retail DVD, rather than download the bits and boot from the DVD to do a clean install of Windows 8.1. The result: Files, settings and programs won't transfer, so users should back up their files, settings and programs and then reinstall them.

Microsoft officials also said that users who buy new devices running Windows 8.1, starting later this year, will be able to buy a Windows 8.1 Pro Pack for $99.99, which will add support for all the Pro-specific features, plus Windows Media Center. Users running Windows 8.1 Pro will be able to buy Windows Media Center as an add-on for $9.99.

As of right now, Microsoft is not planning on offering users of older versions of Windows any kind of limited-time discount for Windows 8.1, a spokesperson confirmed. With Windows 8, Microsoft offered a $40 upgrade promotion to XP, Vista and Windows 7 users to get them to buy Windows 8 Pro

Also today, Microsoft is making available the RTM bits of Windows 8.1 Enterprise to volume licensees with TechNet and MSDN subscriptions.

Microsoft already announced Windows Server 2012 R2 pricing. Users with Software Assurance who are running Windows Server 2012 will be able to get the R2 update for free.

Update: A couple of readers have noted that XP, Vista and Windows 7 users who want Windows 8.1 would save about $30 to $40 by buying a copy of Windows 8 now at retail and then moving to Windows 8.1 for free. There's nothing illegal about that. Might be a plan for some....

Topics: Windows 8, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Most customers will save under this plan

    You figure most people who actively upgrade their old hardware will be on the most current version anyway, so their upgrade will be free. Those who aren't current will pay a little more, but not by that much. And those who build or use VMs will save because their prices went down considerably. And the Pro and MC upgrades are about what they've been. So overall it sounds as if the customer comes out on top for this cycle.
    Michael Kelly
  • The Waterfall effect.

    If you have ever watched things and stuff go over a waterfall then you know what buying software is like. It's here one moment and replaced the next. Meanwhile you're paying money for something very temporary and usually buggy, all while waiting just to do it again for the same thing and the same reason. It gets frustrating.
    • Repeat cycle

      Similar to buying a new iPhone or iPad every year even though little has changed and still likely under a 2 year contract. PS; This isn't sarcastic, just saying what millions do all the time, while not even knowing why. Most people do this because of the "LOOK AT ME" factor. I used to get a chuckle for quite a while after Smartphones first hit the market. In the lunchroom at work all the adults that bought LOOK AT ME phones constantly sat there, playing with them, each showing someone else something on their phone. It's like people living in cities, buying Hummers. It's all an EGO thing.
      • Re: Similar to buying a new iPhone or iPad every

        How is it similar?

        When you buy new phones each year, after two years you end up with two iPhones. Both work, both are good. If you need just one, you can sell the other.

        When you buy new Windows license each year, you end up with one (last) license that is "about good" and another (first) that you know is buggy software and should not be used.
        A fair license scheme would be to buy the OS "expensive" once and forever, and pay small fees for updates, or even get the updates free AND be able to use your "right to use" that OS on any different computer you want to.
        Then, you still need to buy the hardware.
  • Not a fan of the "one version jump only" upgrade functionality

    Back in the old days, you could upgrade from several versions back. I understood the "no XP to 7" thing, because of how incompatible they were. But I don't get why there'd be no "7 to 8.1" option, as I can't imagine that could be dramatically different than 7 to 8.

    The pricing is fine. Not unreasonable at all, particularly since they are full retail copies.
    • Wait.

      XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1

      How is no XP to 7 different from 7 to 8.1?

      And I could be wrong but...I don't think Vista to 7 was free. Neither was 7 to 8. Currently, upgrading from 7 to 8 is the same as upgrading 7 to 8.1 in the future price wise.

      While I like how you always make posts that try to stir up a discussion for both sides, this one really isn't very good.
      • Huh?

        Where did he say he wanted it for free? He said "The pricing is fine. Not unreasonable at all, particularly since they are full retail copies." Doesn't sound like he's complaining about it not being free.

        And here's the difference: XP to 7 changed the folder structure. "C:\Documents and Settings" becoming "C:\Users" was the most glaring. There are several other factors including WinXP being typically 32-bit OS (yes, I know there's a 64-bit version of WinXP, but it was not common) and Win7 being typically a 64 bit OS (yes, I know there were 32-bit versions of Win7 but they were early). That coupled with no Microsoft native migration tool for home users made moving from XP to 7 a real pain. It's a pain in the enterprise as well; we are in the 15th month of an 18 month migration right now.

        Windows 8.x does not drastically change folder structure from Windows 7, nor is it a change as nearly all versions of Windows 7 and all versions of Windows 8.x are 64-bit.

        So I agree with Mac_PC_FenceSitter, "I don't get why there'd be no "7 to 8.1" option, as I can't imagine that could be dramatically different than 7 to 8."
    • 7 to 8.1

      The reason is, there was NO 8.1 at the time. The tech world changes so fast, there is little time to perfect a product that is perfect and/or pleases everyone. He who waits too long is left behind. MS found that out in the Smartphone market. Once you're left behind, it either "Catch up" or fail. Companies, such as tech, spend millions developing a product before recovering one cent. They are under a lot of pressure, especially from investors to start recouping some of that investment. So, some things are rushed to market that have yet to be perfected. This also happens with cars and many other things. Hence we will get Windows 8.1. It's meant to address things that weren't perfect with 8, and customer complaints. But MS cannot, and will not backtrack on what their vision was for the tech future. You notice from comments here and elsewhere, not everyone hates Windows 8. Some people love it, some people are OK with it, and some just claim to hate it. Many of the haters have never even tried it, or didn't really give themselves a chance to really test it. Some people HATE everything (or just hate MS, and likely don't know why).
  • $39 Offer

    Microsoft's initial $39 upgrade offer got me to upgrade multiple PCs from XP and Windows 2000. That was only for a limited time after announcement.

    If they want people to move, they should make that $39 price the standard upgrade price.

    If it were not for the initial low upgrade price, I'd still be on XP & planning to stay there.
    • Hear! Hear!

      I jumped on the Windows 8 bandwagon; NOT because I wanted Windows 8, but because the price to upgrade from XP (at $AU48) was fairly reasonable (at the time).

      No *way* would I now pay $200 (US price) or [GASP!] $400 (AU price) for Windows 8.x!

      (Yes, I rounded up the prices to the next nearest whole dollar. How cynical of me.)
    • Yep... me too.

      You look at the cost of OSX (pretty cheap) and you look at Linux (mostly free) and MS are pushing many folk down a route that is ultimately bad for their total business. I wouldn't be buying 8.1 for these prices.. cheaper to buy a new PC with OS installed then migrate your data. OR just go down another OS route. Same with Office... I get it for $20 via workplace offers but there's no way I'd be paying $400+ for that when openoffice and others do what most people need. They really are taking advantage of folk, but folk catch up and will jump ship eventually. I do hope they see sense one day but so long as shareholders get their dividend I doubt there's much MS can really do except keep milking that cash cow while they can.
  • Microsoft is a software company

    This is how they make money.
    Apple is a hardware company - Do you expect them to discount or give away there hardware?
    Google is an advertising company - Do you expect them to discount or away ad space?
    • RE:

      Yes, you are right. Microsoft is a software company. And considering so, one would come to the presumption that since they only focus on software, they wouldn't release something as crappy as Windows 8. How embarrasing for the programmers that coded parts of the kernel, to have their work extirpated by stupid "expert" business decisions. No one wants Windows PRISM edition with an ugly sensless UI. Get it through your dumb thick skull, Microsoft.
    • Do the maths....

      Are you telling me that Apple support OSX as a big loss leader? Considering it ONLY installs on Apple hardware they have no requirement to keep the cost so low (if you think it goes on a hackintosh then you try it, very few, very awkward, not worth the effort). And given Apples ethos re pricing and lockin/lockout it's hard to see why they wouldn't milk it like MS do. I use MS; I use IOS; I use touch technology; Apple don't see touch as the future; I'm still with MS but there's a danger they push folk too far. At least the touch aspect keeps me tied into MS and I wouldn't be without it even for part time input use. How many times have we all touched the screen on a webform etc, expecting it to do something? I'll bet more than most will admint!
  • My Upgrade XP to 8.0 went smoothly

    You can run the program that makes sure everything is ok or what needs to be updated. I did a clean install from a download to a memory stick. If you download from a system that runs 64bit you will get a 64 bit version which I wanted. That's how it worked with the 8.0.

    I upgrade a retired XP first with the $40 special and it brought it back from the dead. Then I upgraded my production XP
  • huh?

    So they want you to pay for a POS OS when you can get a superior Linux OS for free?
    • Thats seems to be the case

      But if Linux OS is really that superior as you've claim, Why is it that the number of people using it remains miniscule?;-)
      • I think you misunderstand

        The number of SALES of Linux is (comparatively) minuscule, but the number of users who are now using one of the many free distros is unknown. They may well have come up against the looming end-of-support-life for XP and simply decided to switch to Linux because:
        1) a new PC is an unnecessary expense
        2) the (current) price of Windows 8.x is ridiculous

        The other reason that the number of Linux users is relatively low is simply because the average home user is unaware (or needlessly afraid) of it, and most corporate users don't have to pay for Microsoft products out of their own pockets! (It also helps that Windows is already loaded on the vast majority of PCs sold.)

        As the saying goes: "Mac OS/X is graphic proof that it is easier to make Unix pretty than it is to make Windows stable and secure." Linux users have simply discovered that the same applies to them, without the cost of the hardware.
      • Count all the appliances based on the OS

        You soon realize that Microsoft's ops are only popular because of the previously established user base.
        iPhone, iPad, iPod and their hardware belong to Apple.
        Windows can claim ownership of servers, PCs, laptops and tablets with Windows installed ops; but very little ownership of any hardware.
        Linux-based systems range from phones, tablets, ATM machines, airline seat displays, servers, PCs, laptops and tablets. And a share of hardware as well. And much of it free.
        All told, Microsoft is now the minority on today's new appliances. A dinosaur fighting to stay alive. Historically, when you encounter that situation, you regroup and offer an insentive to attract your lost customers. The last thing you is create multiple flavors of the system, raise your prices and expect everyone to cheer and come running back.
        Windows 8 is fine if you accept it for what it is. A dual boot with Linux and Windows is ideal. Or a total buy-in to Apple is ok. But, blindly handing over your cash because it is what you always did is zombieonic suicide.
  • Sorry MS......

    Windows is a NON starter on our 115 systems.

    The UI is a dog, and too may things changed make it unusable.

    Return it to the Windows 7 style and put everything back like Windows 7 and maybe....