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