Some Fine Print About Windows 8 Upgrades

Windows 8 Pro

Previously: Upgrading To Windows 8

For the next couple of months, the cost of a license to upgrade your existing computer to Windows 8 is almost nothing.

The real cost, though, is the time and effort involved, the possibility that the upgrade won’t go smoothly, and the risk that it will have unexpected side effects (like the loss of all your data if you make the wrong choice about how to upgrade).

Upgrading an operating system is a big deal. Don’t try it unless you’re a tech enthusiast who can recover if things go sideways.

With that in mind, here are some upgrade details.

NEW PCs

If you purchase a Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013, you can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99.

The upgrade starts at the Windows Upgrade Offer web site. Register for the upgrade before February 28, 2013. You’ll get an email with a promotion code for a discounted price on an upgrade license.

The promotion code is not locked to a particular PC. An upgrade license can be used on any Windows PC.

Click here for the fine print details.

ANY WINDOWS PC

You can upgrade any computer running any version of Windows to Windows 8 Pro for $39.99. This offer is available until January 31, 2013.

The upgrade starts at Windows.com. Run the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant and you’ll be led through a short process that ends with the purchase page. When you buy the Windows 8 upgrade, you’ll be given a license key and links to install the upgrade right away or to download the media for installation later. You can create a DVD or USB flash drive to use as installation media for a clean install.

One license = one installation of Windows 8. The key is not locked to the computer where you made the purchase; you can use the license key and installation media on any Windows PC. There is a limit of 5 upgrade licenses per person.

Click here for the fine print details and to run the Upgrade Assistant.

GETTING AN UPGRADE KEY

When you run the Upgrade Assistant and purchase an upgrade license to Windows 8, you will be given a product key and a link to download the setup file. (Note: if you click on the link to download the setup file from a 32-bit version of Windows, you’ll download the 32-bit version of Windows 8 Pro. If you want the 64-bit version – and most people will – download the setup file from a computer running a 64-bit version of Windows.)

After you download the setup file, you’ll see this window:

Windows 8 upgrade assistant

If you click on “Install by creating media,” you’ll have the option to create a bootable USB flash drive or an ISO file that can be used to create a bootable DVD. You only need to download the setup file once; the USB flash drive or DVD can be used on any computer getting a Windows 8 Pro upgrade, as long as you have a separate license key for each one.

Windows 8 upgrade assistant

OTHER UPGRADE CHOICES

There are other options to get Windows 8 but no one should do anything other than run the Upgrade Assistant for the next two months. The $39.99 price is available to anyone running a computer with any version of Windows, with virtually no restrictions. It is an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, the full-featured version of Windows 8 suitable for business environments with domain controllers. The regular non-Pro version of Windows 8 is fine for home users – the missing features are only important to enterprises – but at the moment there is no reason not to get Windows 8 Pro if you’re considering an upgrade.

You can get a DVD from Microsoft for $69.99 if you simply must. There are various other choices available for system builders and people looking to make life more complicated (click here for some of the choices available through Amazon). Things will shift around after January 31, when the promotion expires and Microsoft adds the non-Pro version of Windows 8 to the mix.

May all your upgrades go smoothly!