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Microsoft sets the price for a Windows 8 upgrade at $40

Offer extends through January 2013

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For all those customers who can’t wait to enjoy Windows 8’s Metro UI, Microsoft has announced pricing and availability of an upgrade package for users of previous versions of Windows.

Customers running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 for $39.99 during a promotional period that ends January 31, 2013. The upgrade will be available for download from Windows.com as soon as Windows 8 enters general availability.

Users who purchase the upgrade will be walked through the process of downloading and installing it by a Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant at Windows.com. The Assistant will also identify any device or application compatibility issues.

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Microsoft's hoping for painless upgrades with its tools (click to enlarge)

Just how many issues might crop up will depend in part on your current OS. Microsoft says Windows 7 users will be able to migrate all of their settings, personal files, and apps from their existing installation. Vista users will only keep their Windows settings and files, while XP users will lose everything but their files. On the other hand, users who prefer to wipe their drives and install the new version clean will be able to do that, too.

Although the Upgrade Assistant will automatically download and install the update, users will also be able to burn it to a DVD or to a bootable USB drive, if they choose. In addition, users who don’t feel like burning a disc themselves will be able to order one from Microsoft for $15, plus shipping and handling. That’s still a good deal, since a packaged DVD of the upgrade will cost $69.99 at retail stores during the promotional period.

Steve Sinofsky, vice president of Microsoft’s Windows division, has hinted that Windows 8 may be released to manufacturers as early as this month, which suggests that it will arrive in the retail channel by late this year.

The newly-announced upgrade promotion applies to anyone with a current PC running a qualifying version of Windows. Microsoft earlier announced a separate promotion for new PC buyers, which allows them to purchase a Windows 8 upgrade voucher for $14.99. Still no definite word on what full, retail versions of the new OS will cost however. ®

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