At Microsofts Australian launch of Windows 8, three retail prices were announced. But more than a few people ended up confused with Microsoft's pricing and those looking to buy a full version looked decidedly unlikely to find any satisfaction at all.
But fear not - you can buy a full version. But it is going to cost you.
Here's how it all works out.
Until the end of January 2013, introductory upgrade pricing means anyone with a computer with Windows 7, Vista or XP can download and install Windows 8 Pro for $39.99. If you bought your computer after the start of June this year, the price drops to $14.99.
If you want a physical copy of the Windows 8 Pro install, you can buy a DVD for $69.99 from a local retailer like Harvey Norman or Dick Smith Electronics. Prices are already dropping on the DVD upgrade; Officeworks is selling it for under $49. Microsoft says you can also buy the DVD from its website, but its not yet listed.
However, none of these options are appropriate for anyone wanting to install Windows 8 (either the basic version, or the enthusiast-level Pro) on a PC that doesnt already run a previous version of Windows. At the launch at Sydney's Hordern Paivilion, Microsoft would not quote a price for a download or DVD that could be installed on a completely blank, fresh, clean, brand new system.
The language used in Microsofts press release is also a little confusing: the retail DVD is referred to as a Full Packed Product, but the only reference to it being an upgrade-only version is in a sentence that says consumers can also upgrade their existing PCs and laptops. The upgrade version does allow users to start afresh and install a clean version of Window 8 Pro (as opposed to maintaining existing settings and accounts), but it still requires a copy of Windows to be on the computer in the first place.
All of this seems to leave anyone who wants to build their own PC, or upgrade from a Linux system or a Mac OS X machine with Boot Camp, or anyone intending to run a Windows 8 virtual machine, in the lurch.
However, despite Microsofts vague hinting to the contrary, it is actually possible to buy a copy of Windows 8 that you can install on a PC doesnt already have Windows 7/Vista/XP on it.
Specialist PC retailers like TechBuy, EYO, Scorpion Technology, and PC Case Gear are all offering Windows 8 OEM products in their online stores as of today. TechBuy has 32- and 64-bit versions of the basic Windows 8 and enthusiast-grade Windows 8 Pro in its online store, priced around $120 for the basic and $170 for the Pro software. According to price aggregator StaticIce, prices average between $90 and $120 for a standard copy of Windows 8 and between $150 and $170 for Windows 8 Pro.
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