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Leaker claims only some Windows 8.1 users will get free Windows 9 upgrades

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 30, 2014
Wzor says Windows 7-to-Windows 9 upgrades will cost under US$30.

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft will offer some Windows 8.1 users a free upgrade to the next edition, tentatively labeled as Windows 9, a notorious spiller of the company's secrets said today.

According to Wzor, Windows 9 will be a free upgrade from some but not all copies of Windows 8.1. For those currently running Windows 7, the upgrade will come with a price tag. Wzor publicized the claims in a short series of tweets today.

But the free upgrade deal has a big caveat.

"The free upgrade to Windows 9 can be done only from a full retail version of Windows 8.1 ... the OEM version will be paid, same as before," Wzor wrote in one tweet, according to a Russian-to-English translation done for Computerworld by Sveta Surgay, a technical support analyst with IDG's corporate help desk.

Wzor's identity is unknown. In fact, it's unclear if the nickname is for an individual or a group.

By "OEM," Wzor meant the type of Windows license that comes pre-installed on a new personal computer. A "retail" license is one purchased after the fact, typically as an in-place upgrade from an earlier operating system, such as Windows 7.

Customers with Windows 7 PCs, for example, paid $40 for an in-place upgrade to Windows 8 before and for several months after the OS's October 2012 launch.

Although some upgrades from Windows 8.1 to Windows 9 will be free, those from Windows 7 -- and apparently from OEM licenses of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 -- will not be. "For upgrade path to Windows 9 for current Windows 7 users, Microsoft will be giving a special incentive pricing. Somewhere under $30," another Wzor tweet read.

The Windows 7-to-Windows 9 upgrades will be offered via the Windows Store, Wzor added. "There will be an offer to purchase a Windows 9 ESD (electronic software download) through the Microsoft Store for both retail and OEM versions of Windows 7," the leaker said in yet another message on Twitter.

Talk of how Microsoft will distribute the next edition of Windows -- which has been referenced using the code name "Threshold" as well as the preemptive, and presumptive, "Windows 9" -- has been circulating for months.

A widespread free upgrade would put Windows on equal footing with other OSes: Users have been trained to expect free operating system upgrades on their smartphones and tablets, and with Apple's move last year to give away OS X upgrades, those on Macs as well. Google also upgrades Chrome OS for free, and in May promised to support all Chromebooks for at least five years. Windows is the holdout.


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