Windows 8 pricing for system builders said to be roughly the same as Windows 7

Windows 8 pricing for system builders said to be roughly the same as Windows 7

Summary: If you want to build your own Windows 8 PC, expect to pay just under $100 per copy for the consumer version, according to the latest scuttlebutt.

TOPICS: Windows, Microsoft, PCs

Pricing information around Windows 8 has been trickling out over the past few months. I've received a new drip of information -- this time about system-builder pricing for Windows 8.


Here's what we know so far about Windows 8 pricing: In June, Microsoft announced an upgrade offer for those who purchasing Windows 7 PCs between early June 2012 and January 2013. For an additional $14.99, these users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, as of October 26.

In July, Microsoft shared another drop of information: For $39.99,  Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users can upgrade to Windows 8 once it is commercially available on October 26. (Windows 8 testers who have PCs licensed to run one of these previous operating system releases are eligible for the $39.99 upgrade, too.)

This week, one of my contacts passed on to me a new bit he learned about the planned system builder pricing, which will be what white-box vendors (smaller OEMs) will be expected to pay per copy for Windows 8. Microsoft officials also have said the do-it-yourself (DIY)/build-your-own-PC crowd and those installing Windows 8 in a virtual machine or separate partition will be able to purchase System Builder versions of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.

According to my source, Windows 8 system-builder pricing will be largely consistent with Windows 7 system-builder pricing. Windows 8 (the low-end SKU) will cost system builders and hobbyists something just under $100  (U.S.) per copy. Windows 8 Pro will likely cost $20 to $40 more per copy (depending on whether 32-bit or 64-bit), according to information from this contact who asked not to be identified.

In the U.S., the system-builder price of 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, originally listed at $129, is being discounted to approximately $90; the 64-bit Windows 7 Professional system-builder SKU, originally listed at $180, is selling for $130 or so at present. 

Microsoft is not expected to sell a non-upgrade, fully licensed version of Windows 8 either in a box via brick-and-mortar and/or online retailers. With Windows, full product tends to be quite expensive -- and not very popular, as most users get their Windows either preloaded on new PCs, via volume-licensing deals, or as an upgrade to an existing version of Windows. Very few users want or need a complete, new copy of Windows for a machine on which Windows has not been previously installed.

Microsoft's decision against offering full-version copies at retail may be connected to its desire to curb software piracy. One of my sources said that some DIYers take advantage of "transfer rights" -- allowing users to install and activate Windows on a PC and then call Microsoft and tell the activation officials they changed their motherboard to get them to activate a copy of the software again.

"System Builder copies of Windows 8 will not include transfer rights," said the source, who added that the only way for DIYers to get transfer rights will be to buy Software Assurance from Microsoft.

Update: ZDNet's Ed Bott has some clarifications around Transfer Rights, based on licenses he's seen and analyzed. Bott wrote recently if somone buys a copy of a Windows 8 system-builder license and then sells a PC running that license, there are no transfer rights. But the new Windows 8 system-builder license includes a personal-use license that stipulates a DIYer/hobbyist can buy the System Builder software, install it on one's own PC or virtual machine and keep the right to transfer that license to another PC that the individual owns.

All this doesn't mean Microsoft won't sell Windows 8 at retail at all, however. Boxed upgrade versions, including a DVD, will be sold at retail for $69.99 during a promotional period ending in January 2013. 

I asked Microsoft for comment on planned system-builder pricing for Windows 8. A spokesperson said the company had no comment on anything around System Builder pricing for Windows 8.


Topics: Windows, Microsoft, 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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  • Here's a question

    I've got a system builder version of XP on my desktop PC (I got the PC as part of a Microsoft training course I took, and the training school got them from a small PC vendor).

    Usually (it's my understanding) you cannot upgrade the system builder editions. Is that correct? And if so does that mean I cannot take advantage of the $40.00 Windows 8 upgrade offer, or is that not the case for Windows 8?
    • You can upgrade OEM editions

      99.9% of all Windows upgrades are purchased to upgrade an OEM license of Windows.

      OEM licenses can't be transferred to a different computer which is why they are cheaper than "full" versions but they absolutely can be upgraded at the discounted upgrade price.
      • Cool

        Cool. I guess I was mistaken about that.
      • Nope

        In some countries you can transfer OEM licensed Windows to different PC and sell that OEM PC without Windows License in it.

        Microsoft EULA does not overrule local laws where customer rights are protected better than what Microsoft wants in USA to avoid.
    • Your PC needs to pass Genuine.

      If your Windows XP passes Microsoft's Genuine validation then it is eligible for the upgrade. If you haven't validated via Genuine the upgrade will require you to run it before installing.
    • Re: Here's a question

      And here's another point: if a system builder licence is for your own use only, does that mean you can't resell that PC later? If you do so, does the Windows licence simply expire, or does it become full-blown software piracy?
    • Windows 8 Upgrade

      If i download the windows 8 , if i'm unable to download it fully, am i allowed to download it again ??

      the internet speed is very low here , 2GB is big for me ,,
    • Upgrade

      Windows 8 is not an upgrade. You are better off doing a real upgrade to Windows 7, especially if you have hardware that is a little older.
  • Software assurance

    any news on how much software assurance will cost for DIYers? I don't want to fork out a new license for every motherboard change.
    • Wondering the same thing myself

      Since that is usually for volume license customers who need coverage on upgrade rights and other benefits such as support and training. I don't see how this would be beneficial to an individual.
    • Just every mobo change?

      What about when your primary hdd dies? That wasn't mentioned.

      At least when the mobo dies, you still have sys files on your drive and can run (under 7) Windows (silly) Validation process. When you loose your drive.... what utilities are you supposed to be able to run?
      • You can transfer the license to a new HDD

        If the HDD dies though, you should have been backing up all along. If you even create a recent system image, you can just restore it on the new hard disk and continue working without reactivating.
  • Once again....

    Microsoft flatly tells all PC customers that their business is not appreciated and that no matter how much customers pay, they are pirates who are out to steal Microsoft goods and services.

    Really guys, get over yourself.
    • Because....

      You probably are a pirate. Get over yourself.
      • Why're any of you upgrading from 7 to 8?

        Does any of you even know?
        Ma Fourzerosix
        • Sure I do...

          I have a few Windows 7 systems that even have touchscreen (I thought ahead). They now have UEFI BIOS updates, and even touchscreen drivers that allow for multi-touch beyond Win7 offerings. After updating, the systems are much more user friendly using the touch interface, much more interactive in that mode, and I now have apps that react in a similar, unified way. What I didn't expect, but what I've noticed, is an amazing speed increase after the upgrade. I thought for sure my Lenovo Thinkpad would only boot with a marginal speed increase. What I now see with Windows 8, versus Windows 7, is at least a 4x boot time differential. I'm loving Win 8. I'm looking forward to Win8 apps to replace any/all Intel x86/64 applications. They simply work, and to my knowledge, hold no ties to past install/uninstall, registry kludge, or incompatibilities of the past. Go MSFT!!!
  • is this true?

    If I have WIN8 Release Preview installed either from a fresh install or over Win7, I will have to reinstall all my applications again after installing the upgrade? Also I am will retain all personal files?
    • Big No.

      If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8 RP, you could upgrade by keeping your existing apps, the upgrade will inform you after installing what app is not compatible with Windows 8.

      While upgrading, you will be given 3 options.
      1. Keep your existing apps, and data
      2. Keep your data only
      3. Fresh install by completely erasing everything.
      Ram U
    • What gets kept/not when you upgrade to Windows 8

      Hi. This is the info I have on what you can keep and can't when you upgrade from previous versions of Windows to Windows 8:

      Mary Jo Foley
  • I am not sure that helps

    How is the the DIY'er who wants to build a new PC for themselves starting with case and adding components and who does not want to transfer their license because they are giving their old PC to someone or selling it on eBay. I think I know what will happen in practice but I just don't understand MS for not catering for this eventuality. Or am I reading this incorrectly.