Media Center for Windows 8 to be Free, at Least Temporarily
Microsoft officially announced pre-order and pricing information for Windows 8 today. The numbers and dates match exactly with what we reported back in August. To put it simply, you can buy a standard OEM copy of Windows 8 for $99.99. Windows 8 Pro will set you back $139.99. If an OEM upgrade is more up your alley then you can purchase the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade for $69.99 (or you can get it for $39.99 if you purchase it as a digital download from Microsoft). There is one other option for customers who purchase a PC that already has Windows 8 on it. You can purchase the Windows 8 Pro Pack, which upgrades you to Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, for $69.99. There does not appear to be a way to upgrade straight to Windows 8 (as opposed to Windows 8 Pro). All of these prices seem to be promotional, and they will most likely increase after January 31, 2013. You can pre-order Windows 8 starting today at Amazon and other retailers.
As we were double-checking our numbers on the $39.99 upgrade promotion we re-discovered the following tidbit posted on the Building Windows blog post that announced this promotion:
And if you want, you can add Windows Media Center for free through the “add features” option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade.
That’s right: free Microsoft had previously stated that the Windows 8 Media Center Pack would be an “economical” purchase. Most people interpreted that as a low-cost addition, but no one assumed that it would be free. It is starting to look like Windows 8 Pro users will be able to freely add Media Center to their installation at no cost, but that may only be through next January also.
Brandon LeBlanc, the author of the Building Windows post, later commented this clarification:
If you install the Windows 8 Pro System Builder product, you will be able to add Windows Media Center via the “add features” option within the product for free during the promotion.
So if you’re considering upgrading a Windows 7 Media Center box your most economical option will be to purchase the $39.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, and then add Windows Media Center on for free. But you better do it before January 31, 2013.