Microsoft Leaves Windows 8.1 Pricing Unchanged From Windows 8 But Kills System Builder SKUs

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Microsoft today announced the pricing structure for its upcoming Windows 8.1 operating system. Windows 8 users will receive the new code free of charge, but for those not currently on Microsoft’s most recent operating system, the software will cost $119.99 in its basic form, and $199.99 for the ‘Pro’ edition.

Microsoft is also offering a separate Windows 8.1 “Pro Pack” that I do not understand. When I chase down what it is precisely, I’ll update this post.

It’s important to note that the Windows 8.1 prices listed above are for the full Windows 8.1 operating system, and not simply an upgrade to it from a prior install of Windows. This is a change. Previously, Microsoft sold upgrades, and standalone “System Builder” copies of Windows.

No more. As the company noted in a blog post, by offering “full version software” that doesn’t force users to have a prior copy of Windows installed, Windows 8.1 can be deployed with more “flexibility.” In practice Windows now has but two normal SKUs: Regular and Pro. That’s simple. And from Microsoft, which almost boggles.

Microsoft cites “feedback” as one of the reasons that it moved away from selling upgrades and separate “fresh” copies of its operating systems. Presumably, this is the new normal, and Microsoft will keep up the simplified sales structure in the future. As the company notes, the change will make it far simpler to run Windows 8.1 in virtual environments.

Here’s the past:

If you want to build your own PC and install Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro, or want an additional operating system running in either a local virtual machine or separate partition (including a Mac), you can buy the Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro System Builder products (OEM versions). If available in your country or region, you can buy Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro System Builder products at participating stores, but you’ll need to ask a sales rep for more info. This version doesn’t include customer support.

Now, any copy of Windows that you buy, starting with Windows 8.1, will simply be the full set of code, regardless of what you have on your computer. It’s a nice and long-needed change.

By making Windows 8.1 simpler to purchase and install, will it help drive demand and sales? Perhaps a bit, but this isn’t a move to juice unit volume. For enthusiasts and those who run virtual environments, it’s a welcome change.

Top Image Credit: BUILDWindows