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|If you build PCs that run Windows or keep a Windows PC long enough to need/want the latest version or just want better security and speed, you can save money by purchasing Windows 8 for $39.99 before February 2013. For comparison, Windows 7 Pro upgrades still sell for well over $100. In addition, Microsoft is giving away licenses for Windows Media Center for Windows 8, also thru January. |
This is an upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro but as with all Windows 7 upgrade versions there are ways that Microsoft knowingly provides to install it on a PC that has no version of Windows. Do a search if interested.
In the past I recommended doing a clean install of any Windows OS due to problems associated with upgrading an existing OS but I and others have been pleasantly surprised at how smooth and complete the upgrade from Windows 7 is. For XP or Vista, there isn't much point in doing an upgrade install because many/most programs and settings aren't retained anyway. One reason to do a clean install of Windows 8 over Windows 7 is if you have a 64 bit processor but are using a 32 bit Windows. An upgrade install won't let you install 64 bit Windows 8 over 32 bit Windows and the 64 bit version is highly desirable if your PC can run it.
Windows 8 is faster and more secure than previous versions of Windows and has numerous significant usability enhancements. Unfortunately most of that has been overshadowed in the press by the schizophrenic user interface. Microsoft wants to migrate to a single interface for all platforms (phones, tablets, laptops, desktops) and Windows 8 is a step in that direction. That's undoubtedly the reason they are initially selling Windows 8 upgrades for so cheap: to prime the pump. Presumably to hasten customers move away from the "old" interface, Microsoft made the new tablet/phone centric interface the default and made it difficult to use a desktop or laptop as in the past. Fortunately there are free and cheap (<$5) utilities to "fix" this and make Windows look and feel as before but still let you use programs written for the new (Surface) interface.
To purchase for $39.99, Microsoft forces you to run an upgrade assistant on the PC you order Windows 8 from. It will tell you of any incompatibilities or things to research further. If you happen to be using Office 2003, it may tell you that it's not compatible with Windows 8. As widely reported, that does not appear to be accurate but may refer to some obscure feature or possibly just MS's way to push people to update Office since 2003 is at end of life. After the assistant runs you will have the option to purchase a license and download the install files. It provides programs to create a DVD or thumb drive to use for the install. Alternately, you can order a DVD for additional cost if you can't create your own or your internet connection does not lend itself to large downloads. Since all media is the same, you could borrow a DVD from someone who has already downloaded or purchased them.
As part of MS's grand scheme of making laptops and desktops more like phones/tablets they have stripped from Windows 8 all games and some accessories. I believe that's to get PC users to use MS' new Windows 8 app store. You can get free replacements there for what has been stripped out from the app store; but all such program use, as you would expect, the new Surface interface.
Windows 8 has two types of accounts. The traditional local accounts are still an option but unless you take special measures the Windows 8 install will try to get you to create and use Windows accounts based on one of your email accounts. That has a lot of benefits if you have multiple Windows 8 devices because they will stay synced automatically BUT that also puts more of your info in the cloud and has security, privacy and reliability ramifications. So if your PC is the only Windows 8 device you will have, consider using local accounts only. Its easy to switch later if you add devices.
Here is the MS link to purchase Windows 8 Pro upgrade from Microsoft for $39.99: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/buy?ocid=GA8_O_WOL_Hero_...
Here is the MS link to get a free Windows 8 Media Center license for free: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows-8/feature-packs
Even if you don't think you'll use it, it can't hurt to stash away a free license just in case.
As noted, the links are only good thru January.
Update: I forgot to mention that one the items MS stripped from Windows 8 is software to play DVDs. That saved Microsoft a few dollars per copy of windows (license fee related to a US DVD related patent). So you will need to get a player elsewhere if you plan to watch DVDs on the PC. Fortunately, in addition to numerous commercial players there are also free alternatives that are much better that what was ever included with previous versions of Windows. VLC is probably the most widely used. It's complicated but some countries, such as France where VLC is located, do not recognize certain TYPES of patents. The US patent covering the playback of DVDs, is among those types. So DVD playback software created in those countries do not pay a license fee and can be legally used in the US.
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