Windows 8: as cheap as Win7, if you're building your own PC

Pricing information for Windows 8 has been trickling out over the past few months. We've received a new drip of information — this time about system-builder pricing for Windows 8.

(Screenshot by ZDNet)

Here's what we know so far about Windows 8 pricing: in June, Microsoft announced an upgrade offer for those who would be purchasing Windows 7 PCs between early June 2012 and January 2013. For an additional US$14.99, these users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro online, as of 26 October.

In July, Microsoft shared another drop of information: for US$39.99, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 users can upgrade to Windows 8 online once it is commercially available on 26 October (Windows 8 testers who have PCs licensed to run one of these previous operating system releases are eligible for the US$39.99 upgrade, too).

This week, one of our contacts passed on a new bit he learned about the planned system-builder pricing, which will be what white-box vendors (smaller OEMs) will be expected to pay per copy for Windows 8. Microsoft officials have also said that the do-it-yourself (DIY)/build-your-own-PC crowd and those installing Windows 8 in a virtual machine or separate partition will be able to purchase system-builder versions of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.

According to our source, Windows 8 system-builder pricing will be largely consistent with Windows 7 system-builder pricing. Windows 8 (the low-end SKU) will cost system builders and hobbyists something just under US$100 per copy. Windows 8 Pro will likely cost US$20 to US$40 more per copy (depending on whether it's 32-bit or 64-bit), according to information from this contact (who asked not to be identified).

In the US, the system-builder price of 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium, originally listed at US$129, is being discounted to approximately US$90; the 64-bit Windows 7 Professional system-builder SKU, originally listed at US$180, is selling for around US$130 at present.

Microsoft is not expected to sell a non-upgrade, fully licensed version of Windows 8 either in a box via brick-and-mortar and/or online retailers. With Windows, full products tend to be quite expensive — and not very popular, as most users get their Windows either preloaded on new PCs, via volume-licensing deals, or as an upgrade to an existing version of Windows. Very few users want or need a complete, new copy of Windows for a machine on which Windows has not been previously installed.

Microsoft's decision against offering full-version copies at retail may be connected to its desire to curb software piracy. One of our sources said that some DIYers take advantage of "transfer rights" — allowing users to install and activate Windows on a PC, and then call Microsoft and tell the activation officials that they changed their motherboard in order to get them to activate a copy of the software again.

"System-builder copies of Windows 8 will not include transfer rights," said the source, who added that the only way for DIYers to get transfer rights will be to buy Software Assurance from Microsoft.

All of this doesn't mean that Microsoft won't sell Windows 8 at retail at all, however. Boxed upgrade versions, including a DVD, will be sold at retail in the US for US$69.99 during a promotional period ending in January 2013. Microsoft Australia has not yet announced local pricing.

We asked Microsoft for comment on planned system-builder pricing for Windows 8. A spokesperson said that the company had no comment on anything around system-builder pricing for Windows 8.

This article first appeared on our sister site ZDNet.

Via ZDNet US

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