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Microsoft to end Windows 8 discounts on January 31

Here's what it will really cost

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Say what you will about Windows 8; at least the upgrade from Windows 7 is cheap. Or it is for now. After January 31 will be a different story.

Ever since Windows 8's October 26, 2012 launch, Microsoft has been offering retail Windows 8 Pro upgrade DVDs for $69.99. Online upgrades have been even cheaper, at $39.99. And customers who bought new PCs or laptops with Windows 7 preloaded got the best deal of all: If they registered with Microsoft, the online Windows 8 upgrade cost them just $14.99.

Microsoft always said these rates were temporary, but lots of pundits didn't believe it. Why would Redmond raise its prices, they argued, given how tepid customer reaction to the new OS has been?

Well, put such notions aside. In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft confirmed that when it said its discounted Windows 8 upgrade pricing was for a limited time only, it really meant it.

As previously announced, all of the above prices end on January 31. Starting in February, all editions of Windows 8 will sell for their full list prices, which means the cheapest Windows 8 upgrade will go for $119.99.

Note, however, that unlike the discounted upgrades offered previously, that price just gets you Windows 8, not Windows 8 Pro. If you want the additional Pro features – including BitLocker encryption, domain connectivity, and Hyper-V virtualization, among others – you'll need to shell out a little more for the Pro upgrade edition, priced at $199.99.

If you already have Windows 8 and you want to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, the Pro Pack upgrade will cost you $69.99 through January 31. After that, the price goes up to $99.99.

These list prices are similar to what Microsoft charged to upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows Vista or earlier, but they're still high in today's computing market. The last upgrade for Apple's OS X – currently the only other mainstream desktop OS – cost just $20, and you can upgrade most desktop Linux systems for free.

Still, many customers won't actually upgrade at all. Instead, they'll get their first taste of Windows 8 when they buy a new laptop or PC. Microsoft claims it has sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses so far, with a good chunk of those going to OEMs who plan to bundle the OS with their new kit.

In addition to ending its Windows upgrade discounts, Microsoft will also begin charging $9.99 for its Windows Media Center add-on pack on January 31. Previously it had been a free upgrade for Windows 8 Pro users.

Upgrade pricing for the UK, Europe, and other regions was not available as The Reg went to press. ®

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