Windows 8 Pro upgrade at $39.99: Much ado about not much

Windows 8 Pro upgrade at $39.99: Much ado about not much

Summary: Is Microsoft's $39.99 Windows Pro upgrade deal a sign of strength, weakness or red herring. Bet on that last one.


Microsoft will allow anyone running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 to upgrade to Windows Pro 8 for $39.99.

The big question is whether this upgrade is a sign of strength, weakness or red herring. Bet on that last one.

As Mary Jo Foley noted on Monday, Microsoft's move isn't what it seems. Why? Most people and the bulk of Windows users upgrade the operating system as they buy new hardware. Why do you think corporations are still on Windows XP? You got it! They have extended the PC upgrade cycle to infinity and beyond. There are practically vacuum tubes in some corporations.

Ed Bott: Windows 8 Release Preview: Microsoft gets its apps together | Unanswered questions about what's in Windows 8 editions | What exactly do you get with Windows 8 Pro?

For prosumers, only the real hard core wonks are upgrading operating systems. Who has time to deal with it?

Foley noted:

By the way, upgrades are not the main way most users get the latest version of Windows. Far from it. Most -- both consumers and business users -- tend to wait until they are getting new PCs preloaded with a new version of Windows, rather than take the time and trouble to upgrade their existing PCs.


Sure, Microsoft may be bowing to some pressure by offering a Windows 8 Pro upgrade deal. Keep in mind if you buy a Windows 7 PC today you get Windows 8 upgrades for $14.99 too. The bottom line is Microsoft has to make Windows 8 a hit. The company only has its tablet, smartphone and PC strategy riding on Windows 8, which is one ambitious undertaking.

Microsoft promises an easy purchase to upgrade cycle and that's nice.

The reality is that most of us won't bother with a Windows 8 upgrade no matter how great of a deal we get. You get a new OS when you buy a new PC.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems

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  • Source please....

    "most of us won't bother with a Windows 8 upgrade..."

    Most? Us being the general public or those who think like you?

    Also people being on XP has more to do with the cost of Windows 7 doesnt it?
    • exactly, source please!

      I wonder how these authors come up with these statements. Seems like their circle of view is limited to personal opinion or hatred of a particular company. On a 5 year laptop that came with XP, Windows 8 RP is runing blazing fast!. With these prices, all machines will be Windows 8 day 1 !
      • agreed

        If you still have a clunky XP pc and you install windows 8....BOOM BABY you just added 2-3 years of life to your old hardware. Windows 8 is windows at WARP DRIVE. I have a windows 7 Lenovo laptop...nothing fancy and no touch screen but I want the speed and fluidity of WINDOWS 8.

        ZDNET is always jumping on the bandwagon of what's hot. Today it's Apple and Android but in will be WINDOWS 8!
      • Gindeed.

        I managed to breath life into a 7 year old Compaq laptop I'd given up for dead and then donated it to our son's elementary school. A very worthy $40.00 spent.
    • I think he means...

      ...the anti-Microsoft ZDNet users. Most people don't follow tech news... period. Of course, Larry will of course buy something with Windows 8 because he makes his money reporting on technology, as will most of the anti-Microsoft ZDNet bloggers. Do you think the majority of Windows, Android, iOS/OS X users can even tell you what version they are currently running?

      It's ironic, really. Windows XP is dead in less than two years. This is a likely sign that Windows 9 will not be out before then. Instead of applauding Microsoft for making it easier for customers, they get bashed because that's what the tech media does for page hits.
      • No, it's a sign of desperation

        Just knowing that any negative press out there will put a dent in sales.

        People will take it because they are conditioned to take anything MS throws at them. Until they look for that missing Start button...

        Then let the howls begin... lol....

        Nope, I expect we'll see plenty of 'downgrade' rights to Windows 7 much along the same lines as XP when Vista was around.
      • You're right, the blogger is sounding desparate anymore

        It's not unlike Apple in that sense, where people are conditioned to take what Apple throws at them, adapting their needs to fit the item that doesn't match their needs.

        It actually think that Larry is upset that it hasn't gotten anywhere near the negative press he predicted (could his job be on the line?).

        I doubt there will be any large scale "downgrade" users as numbers show that not that many people actually downgraded to XP fron Vista.

        I expect the same tiny amount to downgrade as we saw with Vista.
        William Farrel
        • Sounds more like Wilie's desperate

          Shadowing me around today, eh Wilie?

          Where's Spocky Whocky at?

    • Most of Us won't bother...

      Most of us are tech fan, that means that we love researching, trying, and purchasing technology, regardless if it is a T.Vs, an Smartphone, a tablet or Pc. And regardless also the brand (Yes, we don't let marketing take our choices). And if you won't bother about trying a "revolutionary" (they say) Windows for $39.99 which includes a whole new integrated UI (that goes along with their smartphone and their tablet) and a whole new app store...i don't see the point of you writting on this website.
      Fer A.
      • Revolutionary????

        You've stumbled upon the main reason even many of us "tech" types aren't jumping on 8 --other than being 'new', there's just no compelling reason TO make the jump, and the tablet-centric interface plastered on my non-touch desktop is a DIS-incentive.

        They say "you can just hit a button and you'll be back to the Win7 style desktop"... ok... then why spend the money on an upgrade???
    • XP and cost are the point with XP...and more.

      First of all! I do want to give some serious congrats to Dignan for being the first ZDNet writer I have seen who actually wrote some words describing the big problem with PC sales, problems that have been wickedly misidentified as evidence of "the post PC era". The problem with PC sales is not that people are not purchasing new PC's because they now do all their work on cell phones and tables, play all their games on cell phones and tablets, NO, thats clearly not the case. If it was, that may be some evidence of a post PC era being upon us.

      No, people in general are not purchasing a new PC as often simply because they do not have to. Back in the days of Win98, many a new PC was bought on the fact the OS was bagging out on them. XP has been far more resilient and so has the hardware. In fact there should be little doubt that for many people, any decent computer hardware they have purchased in the last 2-3 years could probably last them another 2-3 years without problem. Even more in many cases. As Dignan pointed out:

      " Why do you think corporations are still on Windows XP? You got it! They have extended the PC upgrade cycle to infinity and beyond."

      As have many home users. DO you remember a time when various so called experts, sales people or others in 'the know' would say things like, "If you get this big an HD, or this fast of a CPU, or this much memory or this good of a video card its all you will ever need"?

      For awhile we have been laughing at all those old predictions of what would and would not be needed in the future. But Moores law has been hard at work for a lot of years now and guess what. For many people, those predictions are finally starting to pan out. For countless thousands of office workers as well as a likely majority of casual home users, many people in recent years have purchased a PC that is both powerful and reliable enough to last them years beyond what a PC of, lets say 5 or 6 years ago would have.

      If the OS remains up to the task, the hardware has finally got to a point where its so strong and reliable that it no longer feels outdated after less than a year. In fact, I see so many more people running older computers that where I used to see many people with a computer less than a year old its now a case where I see far more with computers at least 3 or even four years old, where that used to be the group of people either looking for a new computer, or thinking about getting a new computer. The public generally has extended their upgrade cycle, perhaps not quite to infinity, but certainly beyond, where for many used to be about every 3-4 years.
      • Extending the upgrade cycle

        XP was the first highly reliable WinOS for the masses, one that was buttressed with improved security since SP2. Thus its durability. Vista had quite a rough start, resulting in a permanent black eye. But along came v2 in W7, and a worthy successor to XP was hatched. This leaves little breathing room for the Applesque experiment that W8 amounts to, at least for many.

        On the hardware front, multicore processors along with large, cheap footprints of memory have extended the useful life of many PCs and laptops, as you noted. Add to that a soured economy, where consumers have little choice but to allocate their dwindling funds as wisely as they can, and you can see the resultant trends by doing the math.

        Worth noting, if XP weren't being phased out of manufacturer support, millions upon millions would be sticking with it well beyond 2014. That includes many businesses, big and small.
    • Close to 100% the case.

      "Also people being on XP has more to do with the cost of Windows 7 doesnt it?"

      This is pretty much the facts of life. I know several people on XP still. Its the money issue. They have said it flat outright. They would like to go Windows 7 but they are not going to firstly, pay what it would cost, than secondly go through the upgrade process which can be a little daunting to most non savvy's.

      At $39.99? I know at least some of them are going to be thinking about it.
    • Reply to thekman58

      You will have to pry XP out of my cold dead hands...... it has nothing to do with the cost of windows 7 though.
  • A sensible move, follow the leader

    Ballmer needs Win8 to be a massive hit or it will be the end of him. MS will comfortably ride their desktop monopoly sales to Win9 regardless of Win8's reception.

    I wonder what the OEM's reaction to the announcement is. Having been dumped on by MS a fair bit recently this looks to be the most serious attack on their revenue yet. Windows OS upgrades traditionally were priced in a way that made the hardware path attractive. This is no longer the case.

    Win8 pushes hardware with its toxic touch centric interface. OEMs will be worried about the Win9 update that won't.
    Richard Flude
    • Wonder if OEMs will also see reduced licensing cost?

      Will Microsoft reduced the license fee for OEMs? If not the it will be the ultimate slap in the face imo.
  • Probably will upgrade now.....

    Wasn't planning on upgrading a 4+ year old laptop running Vista, but now I probably will upgrade to Windows 8. If that goes well, I will probably upgrade an all-in-one running Windows 7 that I bought last year. I installed the Consumer Preview in a virtual environment on that machine with mixed results, but I haven't tried the Release Preview. Neither machine has a touch screen.
    • 6 yr old Dell

      My 6 yr old Dell with Release Preview boots up in secounds and the performance is better than My 6 yr old Dell with Release Preview boots up in secounds and the performance is better than when first purchased with XP. Thinking Consumer Preview in the VM may have effected your experience. But hey for 39.99 what the hell huh (LOL)
  • Waiting to Upgrade

    Until at least service pack 1 when they release the ability to turn off Metro and a theme for the desktop that won't make you go snow blind.
    • You can say that again

      more lol...