Every once in a while, tech rumors turn out to be true, and this happens to be one of those instances. Microsoft’s Tami Reller, Corporate Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Windows and Windows Live, confirmed at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto something most tech observers already believed to be the case: Windows 8 will be available to the general public sometime in late October.
Prior to the general release, Reller said Windows 8 will be released to manufacturers (RTM) the first week of August, which means upcoming PCs sporting the new operating system (OS) should arrive before the dog days of summer are over, and well in time for the back-to-school shopping season.
Buy now or wait?
That shouldn’t prevent you from buying a PC today if you simply can’t wait a moment longer, yet also want to invest in Microsoft’s latest (and greatest, according to Redmond) OS. Microsoft announced in June that people who buy a new PC with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate will be eligible to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. The upgrade program kicked off on June 2, 2012 and will run through January 31, 2013.
Try before you buy and save
Another (legal) way to avoid paying full price is to take advantage of Microsoft’s $40 Windows 8 Pro upgrade offer for existing Windows users. This promotion also runs through January 31, 2013 and provides a discounted upgrade path to owners of licensed copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, no matter how old your PC is.
Even better, Microsoft recently confirmed it will make the $40 upgrade offer applicable to users of the Windows 8 Release Preview. That means you can kill two birds with one stone by giving Windows 8 a free test run to find out if you want to upgrade in the first place, and if so, an opportunity to make the jump to the final build at a significant discount. This effectively means the cost of Windows 8 — if you’re willing to install the Release Preview first — is just $40.
Unlike Windows 7, Microsoft is making things relatively easy with Windows 8 by limiting the OS to just four versions, one of which applies to systems based on ARM architecture (Windows RT). The other three editions include Windows 8, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8 Enterprise. Home consumers will choose between the vanilla build and Pro version, the latter of which adds things like Remote Desktop server, BitLocker, and other odds and ends detailed in a Microsoft blog post.
A quick word regarding Office 2013
While this is unofficial and, by extension, unconfirmed by Microsoft, recent leaks suggest Office 2013 will also launch later this summer. It was hoped Microsoft would announce an Office 2013 beta release today at WPC, and while that may still happen, it hasn’t yet.
By Paul Lilly