Microsoft reveals pricing and packaging for Windows 8.1

Microsoft has revealed Windows 8.1's final packaging as well as the pricing for the new version of the company's flagship operating system, which remains the same as Windows 8's price, though some changes have been made to how users upgrade.

Windows 8.1 will have a recommended retail pricing of $119.99 for the regular version and $199.99 for the Pro version. As previously announced, however, Windows 8.1 will be a free upgrade through the Windows Store for Windows 8 users. The operating system will be available for download via the Windows.com store or physical purchase through traditional retail outlets.

In addition to these copies, users who buy a device with the regular version of Windows 8.1 already installed will be able to buy the Windows 8.1 Pro Pack to upgrade to the Pro version of the new operating system, which will also come with Windows Media Center. Windows 8.1 Pro users will be able to buy Windows Media Center for an additional $9.99, the same upgrade cost currently available to Windows 8 users.

Unlike Windows 8, which could only be purchased through consumer outlets as as an upgrade, all versions of Windows 8.1 will be what Microsoft calls "full version software." This will allow users to run the operating system in a virtual environment, a decision Microsoft made after receiving feedback from Windows 8's release. Another change in Windows 8.1 installation process is the removal of direct upgrades from Windows XP and Vista. While users of Windows 7 will be able to keep their files and folders, users of the prior two Windows versions will need to do a clean install of Windows 8.1.

Though Windows 7 users will be able to keep their files, Microsoft says users will be required to "reinstall desktop apps including Microsoft Office."

Windows 8.1 will be available for purchase on Oct. 18, though Windows 8 users will be able to download the upgrade on Oct. 17.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Microsoft

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Wait, I thought 8.1 was going to be like a free service pack? So if people have Windows 8, they need to pay for 8.1? Is that correct

windows 8.1 is a really good and flawless OS so far for me. It is not frustrating as windows 8 was.(e.g. you were limited to snap mode for multi-tasking 1/3 2/3 or search context in start screen or seeing all programs.) plus you can directly boot to desktop which is a must for people migrating from windows 7. I can see lots of positive feedback for 8.1,

Lol people complaining about the price. It's free for Windows 8 users. If you didn't buy Windows 8 when it was ridiculously cheap, that's your problem.

Kaze23 said,
Lol people complaining about the price. It's free for Windows 8 users. If you didn't buy Windows 8 when it was ridiculously cheap, that's your problem.

The way I see it, its more MS's problem than my problem. I'm fine with Windows 7. Its MS not getting my bucks whereas if it were priced a little more competitively I would more likely spring for an upgrade.

The price doesn't really surprise me, however... they need to make this the MSRP so that they can still make money off of their OEMs. Maybe there will be OEM discs on Newegg...

Shadrack said,

The way I see it, its more MS's problem than my problem. I'm fine with Windows 7. Its MS not getting my bucks whereas if it were priced a little more competitively I would more likely spring for an upgrade.

The price doesn't really surprise me, however... they need to make this the MSRP so that they can still make money off of their OEMs. Maybe there will be OEM discs on Newegg...

Windows *is* priced competitively. You're looking at $199 for several years worth of updates, security fixes, and more. How is that not the same as $20 yearly from Apple?

Dot Matrix said,

Windows *is* priced competitively. You're looking at $199 for several years worth of updates, security fixes, and more. How is that not the same as $20 yearly from Apple?

Its rather ambiguous how many years of support and updates you really get from MS. Its hard to draw direct comparisons with Apple because Apple is a hardware company and MS has their OEMs.

First off, $20 yearly is certainly not a requirement for Apple as $199 every-other-year or every three years isn't a requirement for Microsoft. They both support their older operating systems with updates and security fixes, _and more_ for several years. Mac OS X Snow Leopard is still receiving security updates to this month. Leopard was supported through 2012.

Also, there have been only a few instances where MS made a free update that actually included new features. The ones that come to mind are: XP SP2 came with a firewall, and Windows 8.1 is considered a significant upgrade from Widows 8 but free to Win 8 owners. Beyond that the vast majority of service packs and system updates have been primarily for security reasons and bug fixes.

Apple has chosen to release small but focused feature sets added to OS X yearly and charge $20 for them. Folks that want to upgrade do, but those that don't want to don't have to.

I don't think MS needs to charge $20 for their software. I think it is worth much more than that. Apple can basically write off the costs of updating OS X to existing users by the profits they make on selling new hardware.

Not sure what a fair price for Windows is. What I know is this: If it is priced at $120 or $199 this year and I currently have Windows 7 and am happy with it, then I will probably just wait until Windows 9 (8.2 or w/e) comes out next year or the year after and spend my money on it then. I don't think MS will extend the next major OS feature update as a free upgrade to existing windows 8 and 8.1 users.

Shadrack said,

Its rather ambiguous how many years of support and updates you really get from MS. Its hard to draw direct comparisons with Apple because Apple is a hardware company and MS has their OEMs.

First off, $20 yearly is certainly not a requirement for Apple as $199 every-other-year or every three years isn't a requirement for Microsoft. They both support their older operating systems with updates and security fixes, _and more_ for several years. Mac OS X Snow Leopard is still receiving security updates to this month. Leopard was supported through 2012.

Also, there have been only a few instances where MS made a free update that actually included new features. The ones that come to mind are: XP SP2 came with a firewall, and Windows 8.1 is considered a significant upgrade from Widows 8 but free to Win 8 owners. Beyond that the vast majority of service packs and system updates have been primarily for security reasons and bug fixes.

Apple has chosen to release small but focused feature sets added to OS X yearly and charge $20 for them. Folks that want to upgrade do, but those that don't want to don't have to.

I don't think MS needs to charge $20 for their software. I think it is worth much more than that. Apple can basically write off the costs of updating OS X to existing users by the profits they make on selling new hardware.

Not sure what a fair price for Windows is. What I know is this: If it is priced at $120 or $199 this year and I currently have Windows 7 and am happy with it, then I will probably just wait until Windows 9 (8.2 or w/e) comes out next year or the year after and spend my money on it then. I don't think MS will extend the next major OS feature update as a free upgrade to existing windows 8 and 8.1 users.

Of course they'll be free updates. Microsoft didn't charge me to update XP to SP3, Vista to SP2, nor did they charge me to update my phone to 7.1, 7.5, or 7.8, so why would they start here?

Dot Matrix said,

Of course they'll be free updates. Microsoft didn't charge me to update XP to SP3, Vista to SP2, nor did they charge me to update my phone to 7.1, 7.5, or 7.8, so why would they start here?

Umm, because they charged to upgrade to Vista from XP. They charged to upgrade to 7 from Vista. They charged to upgrade to 8 from 7. They charged to go from 3.1 to 3.11. What are you talking about exactly? Typically major updates are something MS wants more money for. 8.1 is the exception not the rule (in terms of significant features..). Most service packs are mere security update and bug fix collections. 8.1 is more than a service pack.

Dot Matrix said,

Of course they'll be free updates. Microsoft didn't charge me to update XP to SP3, Vista to SP2, nor did they charge me to update my phone to 7.1, 7.5, or 7.8, so why would they start here?


Because if MS will move, as rumored, to a yearly cycle release the next iterations of the OS will not, obviously I would add, free. The key points will be the price and the content of these releases.

If MS pushes another "early adopter" discount promotion when Windows 8.1 is released, then I'll probably buy it. However, at this MSRP, I will just wait until Windows 9 comes out and stick with Windows 7 for now.

Any news on Student Discount pricing? My wife is still in college....

Shadrack said,
Any news on Student Discount pricing? My wife is still in college....

Dreamspark Premium? Depending on where she goes to college, it could be free.

I'll bet the ratio is the same as it was for people buying full Win 7 disc outright as opposed to buying a new machine. A majority of individuals and small business buy a new machine to get the new OS.

CygnusOrion said,
The question remains - is anyone buying?
According to many people here, people are buying. Microsoft only gives us one big total number of sales. I'd like to see a breakdown of people who buy Windows 8 retail disks vs buying a new computer with it already installed. My bet is they'd be amazed at the difference between the two consumers.

And that would prove little since that has been the case regarding windows sales for a very, very long time.

Of course, it could fuel lots and lots of pointless arguments if that is what your into.

trooper11 said,
And that would prove little since that has been the case regarding windows sales for a very, very long time.

Of course, it could fuel lots and lots of pointless arguments if that is what your into.

Trooper, I think it would speak volumes. I personally remember the craze Windows 7 created when it was released. It was a hit and people couldn't wait to get there hands on a copy. Windows 8 was not met with the same excitement. A breakdown like the one I would like to see would show that computers will sell regardless, yet improvements should be made because our loyal customers(like me) are hesitant to upgrade. I've been a Windows user since 1992 and the Windows 8 release has been the biggest yawn fest for the majority of users. Some people don't even want to pirate a copy. I believe a more thorough breakdown can show a lot and can even help Microsoft with future operating system releases. Bulk stats never prove anything. Putting numbers under a microscope can explain many things.

I remember the same craze, I also remember that for most users, that craze still meant buying a new pc with Windows 7 on it. See what happened was that most users stuck with XP until 7 came out, so there was even more reason to buy a new pc anyway. The bad vibes around Vista made many people hold onto their existing pcs longer. Moving from 7 to 8 was very unlikely to match that kind of enthusiasm, I don't care how 8 turned out to be. The difference between XP and 7 was so large and the Vista bad vibes hyped up the 7 good vibes. 8 would never have that to help it.

I'm not so sure you would see some gigantic difference with Win 8 other than fewer new pcs being sold, which we all know is due to more than just a mass rejection of Win 8.

Also, I know a lot of people that bought Win 8 on its own during MS' promotion, when it was so cheap. That bump in numbers could skew the point your trying to make. It could show software numbers that are closer to 7 then you would be hoping to see even if you could explain away those numbers as just being due to the cheap pricing.

This all boils down to how you feel about the OS, not the numbers themselves. I agree that Win 8 needs work and 8.1 is a good step towards that. If you feel that Win 8 is a yawn fest, that's cool, I don't, but that's another discussion.

Too many people like to ignore the fact that the Win 8 desktop is very much improved over 7. Too many like to focus on the metro side as if it is all that is there. Of course, if it is so offensive, then I get the reason why. Either way, 8.1 is fixing a lot of the complaints and it seems like MS is going to keep pushing forward. They already know what the numbers are. They are already reacting to the feedback.

So again, if this is about helping MS learn something, I think they already have the data. If its released for us to see, that just helps fuel more silly arguments. Again, if its fun for people, great. But that's probably why many companies don't give out exact numbers when it comes to sales.

trooper11 said,
Too many people like to ignore the fact that the Win 8 desktop is very much improved over 7. Too many like to focus on the metro side as if it is all that is there. Of course, if it is so offensive, then I get the reason why. Either way, 8.1 is fixing a lot of the complaints and it seems like MS is going to keep pushing forward. They already know what the numbers are. They are already reacting to the feedback.

You speak sense, unlike what you usually see on ANY Windows 8 article. I LOVE the new desktop features in 8 and would never go back go 7 on ANY of my PCs. 7 is a great OS and I have no problem using it, but 8 is even better so I use that.

acido00 said,
Why MS is selling a Service Pack? for such 199 dollars.... I was expecting some 19.00 dollars at top.

If you already have Windows 8 it's free, as stated in the article.

acido00 said,
Why MS is selling a Service Pack? for such 199 dollars.... I was expecting some 19.00 dollars at top.
Ït's a new OS, not a Service Pack. Why would they ask 20$ for Windows 8.1 to other users when they asked $120 for Windows 8.0? Wouldn't be fair. Anyway, 8.0 get it free anyway.

acido00 said,
Why MS is selling a Service Pack? for such 199 dollars.... I was expecting some 19.00 dollars at top.

Think of it as similar to Windows 8 + SP1. Obviously you don't get Windows 8 for free if you had nothing. If you already have then you'll get a free upgrade to "SP1" via the Windows Store so this wouldn't be for those people.

Windows 8.1 is a nice update I'd say worth it too.

MS will sell 8.1 instead of 8 from Oct 18, 8.1 has the same price as 8 did. Anyone and everyone that has Windows 8 will get 8.1 for free.

If you still don't get it, just think you're buying Window 8 for 199 and the free upgrade is already implemented.

... Did you really need all this explanation to understand something as simple?

Studio384 said,
Ït's a new OS, not a Service Pack. Why would they ask 20$ for Windows 8.1 to other users when they asked $120 for Windows 8.0? Wouldn't be fair. Anyway, 8.0 get it free anyway.
Windows 8.1 is not a new operating system. They've made nice "updates" to 8.0.

JHBrown said,
Windows 8.1 is not a new operating system. They've made nice "updates" to 8.0.

It's as much of a "new" OS as Windows 7 SP1 would be to Vista users.

Dot Matrix said,

It's as much of a "new" OS as Windows 7 SP1 would be to Vista users.

Please explain!
Vista release Jan 2007 -> Windows 7 SP1 release Feb 2011
Windows 8 release Oct 2012 -> Windows 8.1 release Oct 2013

What does 8.1 add apart from a few customization features?

Riggers said,

Windows 8 release Oct 2012 -> Windows 8.1 release Oct 2013

Not valid to the original ignorant "Why MS is selling a Service Pack?" question because Windows 8 users get upgraded Windows 8.1 for free.

The only people MS would be "selling" an upgrade to are people running a pre-Windows 8 version; thus the Vista -> Windows 7 Sp1 comparison is valid.

Lord Method Man said,

Not valid to the original ignorant "Why MS is selling a Service Pack?" question because Windows 8 users get upgraded Windows 8.1 for free.

The only people MS would be "selling" an upgrade to are people running a pre-Windows 8 version; thus the Vista -> Windows 7 Sp1 comparison is valid.

So basically everyone new update would be a "new operating system"? Technically, 8.1 is not a new operating system. But I see what you and Dot Matrix did there. Of course it would be a "new" operating system to someone who is not running 8.0. You guys here always amaze me!

Huh? I was replying to the ignorant "Why is MS selling a Service Pack?" question, because the only people who would have to buy it are people not yet running Windows 8.

Just like someone running Vista would have to buy a license to upgrade to Windows 7 SP1, but someone running Windows 7 wouldn't have to.

Lord Method Man said,
Huh? I was replying to the ignorant "Why is MS selling a Service Pack?" question, because the only people who would have to buy it are people not yet running Windows 8.

Just like someone running Vista would have to buy a license to upgrade to Windows 7 SP1, but someone running Windows 7 wouldn't have to.

OK I see. You didn't have the original comment quoted and that caused some confusion in the cranium.

Dot Matrix said,

It's as much of a "new" OS as Windows 7 SP1 would be to Vista users.


That is why he stated W8; it is an update to W8 and this is the reason why us, the owners of W8 licenses, will get it for free...... this time.

Come on folks. Companies can claim "new version" if they want or say "free upgrade" if they want. Nit picking on what constitutes as a "new version" and therefore charging for an upgrade is entirely up to them and not up to you. If you don't like it you vote with your bucks.

I'm voting with my bucks, and keeping them in my pocket just like I did in the Windows 8 release. But I won't argue whether or not this is a *new* version or an upgrade. Technically all boxed versions of Windows were deviations of the previous versions and stating otherwise or making a big deal out of it is just foolishness.

Riggers said,

What does 8.1 add apart from a few customization features?

The improved Skydrive integration is nice. Besides that, I don't really know what they've changed. Probably some small tweaks here and there behind the scenes. It's good that it's a free update.

acido00 said,
Why MS is selling a Service Pack? for such 199 dollars.... I was expecting some 19.00 dollars at top.

$199 for several+ years of support is completely competitive with Apple's $20/yr incremental updates.

acido00 said,
Why MS is selling a Service Pack? for such 199 dollars.... I was expecting some 19.00 dollars at top.
This post doesn't surprise me, what surprises me is the 2 likes it got. O_O

Enron said,

The improved Skydrive integration is nice. Besides that, I don't really know what they've changed. Probably some small tweaks here and there behind the scenes. It's good that it's a free update.

Hundreds of new API calls for a start.. Not exactly the norm for a 'service pack'..

Calling it SP1 is sort of downplaying what's been added/enhanced/changed. Although the changes could be considered subtle, there are a lot of them and they really add a welcome polish to Windows 8.

acido00 said,
Why MS is selling a Service Pack? for such 199 dollars.... I was expecting some 19.00 dollars at top.

Because it wouldn't make any sense. If you have Windows 8, you get 8.1 for free. If you don't then to you it is a new OS, hence the price tag

Finally, no more need for me to explain to customers, you first need to install Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, start the upgrade from within those qualifying operating systems so that Windows 8 can do the compliance check. Do not explicitly format the machine, just do a custom install, you can delete the Windows.old folder after. Goodluck.

NinjaGinger said,
199 dollars, sorry, I wouldnt even have it on my desktop pc for free. Phone or tablet, now thats a different story.
Agreed! I can't believe they have the audacity to price it so aggressively as though its in high demand. Keeping the price low would deflect many of the negative criticism of Windows 8 as a whole.

NoClipMode said,
The desktop is WAY better in 8.1 compared to 7. Theres no comparison.

So is there a comparison or not?

JHBrown said,
Agreed! I can't believe they have the audacity to price it so aggressively as though its in high demand. Keeping the price low would deflect many of the negative criticism of Windows 8 as a whole.


Again, what's wrong with the price? $199 for several+ years of support. Sounds reasonable to me.

JHBrown said,
Agreed! I can't believe they have the audacity to price it so aggressively as though its in high demand. Keeping the price low would deflect many of the negative criticism of Windows 8 as a whole.

If you don't have a demand for it then what does it really matter to you? It is priced at what it is worth. It's a quality piece of software that is priced at market value. How much does an OS X upgrade cost? Even with no demand, Windows 8 has as much (probably even higher by now) install base than all OS X versions combined...

I'd like to see the prices at $89 for a regular copy and $139 for the Pro. That would draw in more upgrades or downgrades as some would consider.

Buttus said,
yea, was tempted if it was at the special rate again, but $120, or $200? nah.....

It sounds like they've done away with upgrade pricing all together but I wish they would have considered lowering the absolute price on this a bit more. With this cost I'll be pushing back my upgrade from Windows 7 until the Windows 9 release.

I think that they are overpricing Windows in order to make people consider upgrading their hardware so that it comes with the new version, rather than just upgrading their software. Not very happy about this.

Well if you bought Win 8 when it was for $50, you could just download the 8.1 iso and install so its still free if you invested early on.

Sadelwo said,
Well if you bought Win 8 when it was for $50, you could just download the 8.1 iso and install so its still free if you invested early on.

This.

L925 said,
What about those who fresh installed Windows 8.1 Beta after wiping Windows 8?

Upgrading from a Beta is generally (And I'm sure it's the case here) not supported...

L925 said,
What about those who fresh installed Windows 8.1 Beta after wiping Windows 8?

You can still upgrade, you just have to reinstall all your apps.

I have already paid £24.99 last year for the upgrade to Windows 8, but I fresh installed W8.1 Beta over W8, so I guess I'll have to pay now for W8.1? I guess my fault for not installing on different partition / using VM...

L925 said,
I have already paid £24.99 last year for the upgrade to Windows 8, but I fresh installed W8.1 Beta over W8, so I guess I'll have to pay now for W8.1? I guess my fault for not installing on different partition / using VM...

No you don't. Win 8 keys work perfectly fine on fresh installed W 8.1

I've not got a written copy of my key, so I hope that it will automatically show up as an available FOC update in the store or Windows update.

L925 said,
I've not got a written copy of my key, so I hope that it will automatically show up as an available FOC update in the store or Windows update.
From what I've heard, you don't need to have a product key because Windows can use your hardware to activate it (Microsoft has special requirements for new PCs made by OEMs that allow this to happen).

Pluto is a Planet said,
From what I've heard, you don't need to have a product key because Windows can use your hardware to activate it (Microsoft has special requirements for new PCs made by OEMs that allow this to happen).

Exactly. On my Company Lenovo X1, the BIOS states which version I have a license for

L925 said,
I've not got a written copy of my key, so I hope that it will automatically show up as an available FOC update in the store or Windows update.

Your key is embedded in your BIOS. Windows should pick it up for you. If not, you can use a utility called rweverything.com to read your CD key from your BIOS. I had to do this but I was impatient and upgraded using a leaked W8.1 ISO which is a different story. If you upgrade from the store you should be fine

Ian William said,
Those boxes look sharp!

Shame that they ditched the windowed Windows logo, though.

Windowed windows logo? Isn't that exactly what that is above? just in a different perspective and not a "flag"

From that picture it's not really possible to tell if they ditched it or not. The color in the window matches the color of the inside box.

68k said,
Those had too much color. They wouldn't fit in with the Metro theme guidelines, which don't allow the use of more than three colors in a theme.

If Microsoft designed them then surely they have to be considered official? I mean, it's all very well having guidelines but if even the company that designed them violate them then what good are they really?

theyarecomingforyou said,

If Microsoft designed them then surely they have to be considered official? I mean, it's all very well having guidelines but if even the company that designed them violate them then what good are they really?

There is no such rule in the Metro theme guidelines. They more focus on content over chrome and text. They don't focus on color.