Windows 8 could be cheapest yet, due to no retail option

We already reported on the special offer that will allow anybody to upgrade from the Release Preview, as long as you have "an underlying license for either Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7" for a mere $39.99.

Now, new information has come to light that could please a lot more people if true. According to a new rumor straight from Microsoft’s insiders, Paul Thurrot and Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft could be doing away with full retail media altogether for the Windows 8 release and instead, offer just two packages:

  • Windows Upgrade Digital Download ($39.99) + DVD (an extra $15)
  • Windows 8 System Builder Kit (OEM)

The Windows 8 System Builder Kit (OEM) is the version you would buy if you're building your own system, so technically that would qualify as the "full version", an upgrade version would fall under the license requirements outlined at the top of this article.

Thurrot went on to say that "there's normally a full version of Windows, but maybe not anymore [and] that would be great!" he also said that although the limited promotion is $39.99, the upgrade price has yet to be confirmed; but Thurrot hopes that Microsoft could extend it and make it permanent.

It's also worth pointing out that Steve Ballmer already pledged to attack Apple in all areas of their business; offering a cheaper way to upgrade or obtain Windows would align itself a little more with Mac OS X pricing.

If we compare the previous version of Windows pricing we get:

  • Windows 7 Professional (OEM): $134.99
  • Windows 7 Professional (Retail): $299.99

A significant, and welcome change if it goes ahead.

Would this sway some people to bite the bullet and upgrade? We think so, but feel free to leave your comments below.

Via: Insideris
Source: Windows Weekly (Episode 269: Mail-Order Lemmings)

Updated with corrections. One reader rightly pointed out that the rumor is that there will be no "full version" retail option, a boxed upgrade version will still be made available.

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68 Comments

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Never understood why the OEM and Retail were like so far apart on price. If both have the same features...why charge 100 dollars more for the same version you buy at Frys?

And there are quite a few people that will wait for a new OS to come out before purchasing a new system anyways.

So...to me...why have a retail version?

texasghost said,
Never understood why the OEM and Retail were like so far apart on price. If both have the same features...why charge 100 dollars more for the same version you buy at Frys?

And there are quite a few people that will wait for a new OS to come out before purchasing a new system anyways.

So...to me...why have a retail version?

OEM = System Builders; licensed for machines that will be resold ONLY, and the System Builder is responsible for End-User support of the OS; and is tied to the hardware. (Specifically, the motherboard, if you dig into it)

Retail = You can install it anywhere, and move the license to another machine if you want. Microsoft will support you for a certain amount of time (I forget how long) after purchase/initial install.

No retail option is kinda silly, considering that the Windows 8 DVD itself already contains everything needed for a fresh install.

Microsoft *could* just offer users the option of retail or not at practically no additional expense. Give us choice!

If stocking SKUs in retail shops is an issue, then simply sell the retail keys online...

How on earth is this "good news for a lot of people"?

Upgrade means: you need to have Windows 7 installed first, then install 8. Not exactly a clean install.
OEM means: you can't activate on a newer PC in the future with your existing licence.
Retail means: you can avoid upgrade path, and transfer licence to new PC - 2 good things here.

I bought the one copy of retail Windows 7 myself, and already had it transferred to a newer PC too.

Salty Wagyu said,
How on earth is this "good news for a lot of people"?

Upgrade means: you need to have Windows 7 installed first, then install 8. Not exactly a clean install.
OEM means: you can't activate on a newer PC in the future with your existing licence.
Retail means: you can avoid upgrade path, and transfer licence to new PC - 2 good things here.

I bought the one copy of retail Windows 7 myself, and already had it transferred to a newer PC too.

Your ignorance is apalling.

Ice_Blue said,

Your ignorance is apalling.


How is he wrong? No retail copy = breaking eula to buy an OEM "for cheap"

Some notes here:

1) The rumor from Paul and Mary isn't that retail media will be done away with altogether. It's that there won't be a retail full version. Microsoft already announced the upgrade retail box would be availble for $69.99 during the promotional period.
2) $39.99 isn't the price for an upgrade DVD; it's for a digital upgrade download. The DVD can be ordered for an extra $15.

Here si the one problem I see. If Microsoft does this as a permanent price for Windows 8, they will likely have to stick with such pricing for subsequent versions of Windows.

The other downside I see is, Microsoft will have to sell 4 copies to equal what it got for 1 coopy of Windows 7 Pro at retail. Wondering how much this could bite into profits? However, since MS sold 500M+ licenses to Windows 7, that number could double with Windows 8, providing thy could get those peopel interested in it. Windows 8 will run all the same apps as Windows 7, but businesses that just bought Windows 7, wont be speind any money to move to 8 so soon.

So pretty much, if I have a notebook that is capable of running windows 8 fine, but I dont have a valid license for 7, then I cannot buy windows 8 period for this notebook, and I have to upgrade to brand new hardware, in essence keeping me locked to windows 8 only with the chance to run no other OS right? I see what your doing there Micropple.

Windows 8 (unlike Windows RT) machines aren't locked to Windows 8. Microsoft requires Windows 8 OEMs to include a way to disable Secure Boot for running other operating systems.

nicconics said,
So pretty much, if I have a notebook that is capable of running windows 8 fine, but I dont have a valid license for 7, then I cannot buy windows 8 period for this notebook, and I have to upgrade to brand new hardware, in essence keeping me locked to windows 8 only with the chance to run no other OS right? I see what your doing there Micropple.

You have a notebook that wasn't sold with a copy of Windows 7, Vista, or XP?

You don't need a valid license for 7... if you have a valid license for Vista or XP.

Don't have a valid license for 7, Vista, or XP? Buy the OEM (System Builder) copy for cheap.

All of your points are completely invalid.

rfirth said,

You have a notebook that wasn't sold with a copy of Windows 7, Vista, or XP?

You don't need a valid license for 7... if you have a valid license for Vista or XP.

Don't have a valid license for 7, Vista, or XP? Buy the OEM (System Builder) copy for cheap.

All of your points are completely invalid.


rfirth said,

You have a notebook that wasn't sold with a copy of Windows 7, Vista, or XP?

You don't need a valid license for 7... if you have a valid license for Vista or XP.

Don't have a valid license for 7, Vista, or XP? Buy the OEM (System Builder) copy for cheap.

All of your points are completely invalid.

really mr obvious? How do you get around the eula for an oem copy and a new piece of hardware if you dont want it, the only point you tried to make is invalid. oem software requires at least some form of new hardware.

Any idea how much the Windows 8 System Builder Kit (OEM) version might cost per copy?
For anyone asking me about upgrading to Windows 8, that's the version I'll need to get.

I can't exactly grab an ISO and product key from my Technet account and use that!

DJGM said,
Any idea how much the Windows 8 System Builder Kit (OEM) version might cost per copy?
For anyone asking me about upgrading to Windows 8, that's the version I'll need to get.


I can't exactly grab an ISO and product key from my Technet account and use that!

Sure you can! But your going to have to pay for technet every year to keep it going, since they are changing the keys to deactivate if they are tied to a technet account that expires.

nicconics said,

Sure you can! But your going to have to pay for technet every year to
keep it going, since they are changing the keys to deactivate if they are
tied to a technet account that expires.


I know about that, from the recent Neowin article. If the System Builder Kits for Windows 8
are likely to be reasonably low cost, then it would work out somewhat cheaper than using
the ISOs obtained from Technet, and then keeping up the annual subscription. Especially
now since only 3 product keys are now allowed per product. That would mean I could
only sell Windows 8 to a maximum of 3 customers.

nicconics said,

Sure you can! But your going to have to pay for technet every year to keep it going, since they are changing the keys to deactivate if they are tied to a technet account that expires.

Are you sure about that? I know they are no longer perpetual licences, but IIRC you're on your honor to quit using it.

DJGM said,

I know about that, from the recent Neowin article. If the System Builder Kits for Windows 8
are likely to be reasonably low cost, then it would work out somewhat cheaper than using
the ISOs obtained from Technet, and then keeping up the annual subscription. Especially
now since only 3 product keys are now allowed per product. That would mean I could
only sell Windows 8 to a maximum of 3 customers.

Ummm...you DO realize TechNet licensing isn't for you to resell (in fact, it is strictly forbidden and the reselling of keys is exactly WHY they've cracked down on how many keys you get?) Its discounted heavily for TESTING and EVALUATION ONLY.

Folks like YOU screwed the pooch for EVERYONE.

kcbnac said,

Ummm...you DO realize TechNet licensing isn't for you to resell (in fact, it is strictly forbidden and the reselling of keys is exactly WHY they've cracked down on how many keys you get?) Its discounted heavily for TESTING and EVALUATION ONLY.

Folks like YOU screwed the pooch for EVERYONE.

lol @ screwed the pooch, but true. My work MSDN account still has the 10 keys in it though, not sure why.

I bought the retail copy of Windows 7... I think.

I don't think Amazon let me buy the OEM copy as I wasn't buying any other computer things from Amazon, I purchased those elsewhere. I don't want to "upgrade" but want to start again, reformat le blah.
You're telling me I have to reformat, install Windows 7, then upgrade?

Has Microsoft ever said if the OEM Win8's will have BOTH 32 and 64-bit DVD's in them, or the same lame crap with Vista and Win 7 having only one bitted version in the package?

ir0nw0lf said,
Has Microsoft ever said if the OEM Win8's will have BOTH 32 and 64-bit DVD's in them, or the same lame crap with Vista and Win 7 having only one bitted version in the package?

Just buy the version you're going to use. If you change your mind later, you can just download the ISO for the other version. All you really need in your toolkit is two discs/flash drives/ISOs, one 32-bit and one 64-bit with the ei.cfg file removed.

Even free Windows 8 wouldn't get XP diehards off XP, neither will end of support do. Free Windows 7 and Vista copies didn't make me dump XP. Putting back removed features and same level of customization will. Anyone from MS listening?

xpclient said,

Even free Windows 8 wouldn't get XP diehards off XP, neither will end of support do.


XP users are going to have to upgrade eventually. Anyone still using it after security update
support ends in under two years time is a complete and utter fool. Same goes for anyone
still using Windows 2000 now, which has now been officially obsolete for 2 whole years.

Using an unsupported OS especially on the internet is like skinny dipping in a vat of acid!

DJGM said,

XP users are going to have to upgrade eventually. Anyone still using it after security update
support ends in under two years time is a complete and utter fool. Same goes for anyone
still using Windows 2000 now, which has now been officially obsolete for 2 whole years.

Using an unsupported OS especially on the internet is like skinny dipping in a vat of acid!

You don't know about unofficial updates do you?

xpclient said,

You don't know about unofficial updates do you?

You do know what you're a masochist running XP, right?

xpclient said,
Even free Windows 8 wouldn't get XP diehards off XP, neither will end of support do. Free Windows 7 and Vista copies didn't make me dump XP. Putting back removed features and same level of customization will. Anyone from MS listening?

I dont think they care about those people still using XP like yourself. 500+ millions copies of Windows 7 are the main problem for Windows 8.

Who still running 2001 hardware (or so) would update to W8 instead of buying a new computer?

I feel sorry for you...the only way you will be happy is be Microsoft releasing a XP for old Die Hards edition in 2012.

xpclient said,
Even free Windows 8 wouldn't get XP diehards off XP, neither will end of support do. Free Windows 7 and Vista copies didn't make me dump XP. Putting back removed features and same level of customization will. Anyone from MS listening?

Let me guess - you have one of those old rotary telephones because new fangled cell phones took away features such as a cord to the handset, cord to the wall, more weight, and other "features." Maybe you should call the Supreme Court and they will block cell phones for you, too.

Ricardo Dawkins said,

I dont think they care about those people still using XP like yourself. 500+ millions copies of Windows 7 are the main problem for Windows 8.

Who still running 2001 hardware (or so) would update to W8 instead of buying a new computer?

I feel sorry for you...the only way you will be happy is be Microsoft releasing a XP for old Die Hards edition in 2012.

It is beyond your dodo bird brain why I stay with XP so there's little gain arguing with someone without objectivity. Don't feel sorry for me, feel sorry for yourself for being unable to understand which OS works better, how and for whom.

xpclient said,

You don't know about unofficial updates do you?


Unofficial updates, yes I know about those. To be quite honest, I wouldn't touch them
with a ten foot pole! From what I gather, foolish people still running Windows 2000,
are applying updates that have been reverse engineered from updates for XP.

Aside from the fact that it's a breach of the EULAs that accompanies all the original
updates made for XP, there's also a high risk of causing serious system instability.

If a customer came to me with PC problems caused by running Windows 2000 with
unofficial 3rd party updates, I would advise them the only thing I could do, would
be a complete "wash and wipe" of the system, including an upgrade to a newer
version of Windows that is still supported to receive official Microsoft updates.

I stick by my earlier comment - anyone still running Windows 2000 is a fool, and I
have absolutely no sympathy at all for any such person whose PC gets fubar'd
due to running an ancient operating system that is officially dead.

To go beyond making it cheaper, they would need to not make this some one-time windows 8 thing, but carry it on, keep this system alive!!

Bring the OS Down so people are using your SERVICE not PRODUCT more

you're saying they're doing away with retail , yet they're still gonna offer two DVD packages?

how do you think they're gonna sell these (or at least the upgrade DVD)? retail. especially in those places that are not keen on e-commerce (Even if they have enough bandwidth to download the thing quickly)

no retail boxes sucks! Some people upgrade their pc's regularly, OEM ties you to that hardware, you have to phone up when a piece of hardware changes to reactivate. I doubt you can install it on a completely different pc. Not good doing away with the retail version.

Cheaper it is, the less pirating I think/hope.

It'll be so much easier than fools trying to find hookie copies around the internet

For $39.99 I would be willing to at least try it out. I would not if the price would be the same as Windows 7 Retail. A retail product is great for businesses I guess, but consumers would (almost) never buy it. I once bought a retail Windows CD. Windows 95 as far as I remember.

Neobond said,
I bought the retail boxed upgrade version of Windows ME!

So did I. And it worked fairly okay. Until one it didn't work at all anymore.

Neobond said,
I bought the retail boxed upgrade version of Windows ME!

So did I. And it crashed the very first time I went to install it. After a few months I ended up going back to Win98SE before moving on to Win2K.

Does anyone ever actually pay $300 for a retail version if Windows? I always found that pricing laughable, because if someone has enough money to throw at an OS like that, they can buy a Pre- built PC and let someone rape them some more on pricing of a full PC.

When's the last time you heard of someone going in to their local computer shop and buying a boxed version of Windows? Apart from everything else, MS have these figures in front of them and know full well it wouldn't hurt business to remove it all together.

MikeHellstone said,
When's the last time you heard of someone going in to their local computer shop and buying a boxed version of Windows?

i work at a "local computer shop" we do see a few copys of Windows 7 but yeah you are pretty right, most people think that is better to just get a new computer with the latest Windows on it

This sounds good as long as the OEM edition does not feature hardware changing restrictions. If it does, it should be easily upgradable to a version that does not.

The hardware restrictions have been relaxed time and time again, and even when it became an issue I was able to phone in and activate

Neobond said,
The hardware restrictions have been relaxed time and time again, and even when it became an issue I was able to phone in and activate

Yeah, I've changed my computer tons and never had activation problems since 3 years ago or so. I had to phone in once 6 years ago or something, but that took 2 minutes.

This path will guarantee one thing... strong sales figures to show and tell people that Windows 8 is a bigger success than Windows 7.

This is like steam sale... offer at an incredibly low price and make people buy it... even if they might not use it at the end...

psreloaded said,
This path will guarantee one thing... strong sales figures to show and tell people that Windows 8 is a bigger success than Windows 7.

This is like steam sale... offer at an incredibly low price and make people buy it... even if they might not use it at the end...

You're right... I HATE the Launch Screen and won't install this OS when it's released... but I will probably buy a copy, just in case something can be made in the future to remove the Launch Screen/WinRT stuff (à la vLite).

They didn't drop the price cause they're our friend... They know the OS isn't well received by many users.

Even if the upgrade was going for £10 here in the UK, I could not see myself going for it. I have only one touch device and that's my Windows Phone.. That OS works well as its a touch device as soon built for it.. My laptop im on now and my main desktop I use for video editing mainly are not touch screen devices, and I found the OS a pain to navigate with. Seen a lot of people say on here if your going to just use the basic old style windows main screen no problem just you an app to do that.. Why do that? Get a newer OS and run it like its Windows 7? Surly just staying with Windows 7 would make more sense then, seeing apart from the new start screen I don't find the new stuff in 8 would help me in anyway.. This is just all IMO of course.. But you get what im saying.. If you don't have a touch device then is Windows 8 really a worth whiled upgrade?

Neobond said,
I'm no fan of the Metro start screen, but I can still get everything done in Windows 8. I'll be upgrading.

I love Microsoft, but it's no surprise you would upgrade, no matter how bad it was. This site is admittedly biased towards MS, and even mentions its goals when hiring people. (pro MS)

Jaybonaut said,

I love Microsoft, but it's no surprise you would upgrade, no matter how bad it was. This site is admittedly biased towards MS, and even mentions its goals when hiring people. (pro MS)

Neo *WIN*

windows95isg8 said,
If you don't have a touch device then is Windows 8 really a worth whiled upgrade?

Storage Spaces.
That's the feature that is compelling me to upgrade for $40.

windows95isg8 said,
Even if the upgrade was going for £10 here in the UK, I could not see myself going for it. I have only one touch device and that's my Windows Phone.. That OS works well as its a touch device as soon built for it.. My laptop im on now and my main desktop I use for video editing mainly are not touch screen devices, and I found the OS a pain to navigate with. Seen a lot of people say on here if your going to just use the basic old style windows main screen no problem just you an app to do that.. Why do that? Get a newer OS and run it like its Windows 7? Surly just staying with Windows 7 would make more sense then, seeing apart from the new start screen I don't find the new stuff in 8 would help me in anyway.. This is just all IMO of course.. But you get what im saying.. If you don't have a touch device then is Windows 8 really a worth whiled upgrade?

It's generally just faster/efficient, why would you not want that? (I mean in performance, no comment on usability, I hardly use the start menu anyway with the superbar.

Maybe, just maybe Microsoft are looking to all those people still on Windows XP and thinking that cheaper upgrades would finally convince people to move over (as well as people on Vista and Windows 7).

I think that has been a sticking point for Microsoft, convincing people to be on the latest version of Windows and this could make it much more attractive.

Not to mention they will want to capitalize on the Windows Store as well, which will be another stream of revenue right from within Windows. It all makes sense to me.

Neobond said,
Maybe, just maybe Microsoft are looking to all those people still on Windows XP and thinking that cheaper upgrades would finally convince people to move over (as well as people on Vista and Windows 7).

I think they are concerned this could be another Vista or more likely worried people will not upgrade from windows 7.

stevember said,

I think they are concerned this could be another Vista or more likely worried people will not upgrade from windows 7.


....and they know those 500+ millions Windows 7 installations are their only competition.

The retail box was never the main revenue source for Windows, so it make sense to do away with it. Beside, people pirate dem windows anyways with ridiculous retail pricing

flexkeyboard said,
The retail box was never the main revenue source for Windows, so it make sense to do away with it. Beside, people pirate dem windows anyways with ridiculous retail pricing

I will probably buy the windows 8 upgrade, 150 quid+ has always been out of my budget, for that I can get an xbox, new screen or a few games. Or I could just put that towards a new computer, you can get decent ones for 400-600 quid.

I hope this new method works, looks like +1 for the consumer.

flexkeyboard said,
The retail box was never the main revenue source for Windows, so it make sense to do away with it. Beside, people pirate dem windows anyways with ridiculous retail pricing

most likely you don't get torrents if ppl don't conceder of buying it at the first place. unless leaked version or officially from ms that someone has accidentally releasing it.