Getting with the program becomes important if Microsoft wants a shot at the tablet market. OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), which have opted for the full Windows rather than the touch-only Windows RT, will require free or very low cost upgrades from Windows 8.1 for their extra-cheap tablets. No one will spend more than the tablet, or even a fraction of the purchase price, to upgrade the OS.
Earlier this month, Computerworld calculated that if Microsoft did offer free upgrades from Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 to Windows 9, it could push half of the installed base to the newest OS by the end of 2015. That estimate, however, was predicated on a free Windows 9 upgrade for all customers who had a device running Windows 8 or 8.1. However, Wzor's assertion that the free Windows 9 upgrades will be available only to those with retail copies of Windows 8.1 -- not for users who received Windows 8 or 8.1 pre-installed on their personal computers or tablets -- invalidates those forecasts.
Microsoft will host a news conference Tuesday in San Francisco, where it will reveal aspects of the new Windows that were designed primarily for corporate customers.
It's possible, but not likely, that Microsoft will disclose upgrade paths and pricing for Windows 9 tomorrow. In the past, the company has kept those details to itself until closer to the actual ship date, noted Michael Silver, an analyst at Gartner, in an interview today.
Most experts and pundits expect that Microsoft will ship the final version of Windows 9 in the first half of 2015.
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