Last chance: Microsoft plans huge Win8 price hike



news Microsoft Australia has confirmed that Australians have only several more days to buy its new Windows 8 operating system at promotional prices before it hikes its prices on the software massively as at the 1st of February.

Since the software launched in late 2012, Australians have been able to buy Windows 8 upgrades online relatively cheaply. The Windows 8 Pro upgrade can currently be downloaded from Microsoft’s online store in Australia for just $39.99.

However, in a blog post on the company’s global Windows blog in mid-January, Microsoft communications manager Brandon LeBlanc noted that these introductory prices would only last until January 31st this year, with the company planning to significantly hike prices; the Windows 8 Pro upgrade version will cost US$199.99 from February, the normal Windows 8 upgrade edition will cost US$119.99 and other price increases would also apply.

Since that time, Delimiter has had an inquiry with Microsoft Australia as to whether the same situation would occur in Australia as at 1st of February. This afternoon, Microsoft Australia confirmed through the company’s public relations firm that it would. “Visit the Microsoft Store before 31 January to take advantage of the current Windows 8 Pro upgrade launch promotion, which offers a discount of up to 90% off the recommended retail price that commences on 1 February,” the company said.

“Also, customers that received the Windows Upgrade Offer code when they purchased a Windows 7 PC between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013 will need to redeem that offer by 28 February 2013 at to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $14.99.”

The move has already attracted significant criticism from end user customers, with several dozen commenters on LeBlanc’s blog almost universally condeming Microsoft’s plans. “I love Windows 8, but this pricing is going be way too high to convince people to upgrade,” wrote one.

And a third added: “I think this is a very big mistake for Microsoft to make. I’m a huge advocate of Windows 8– running it on my laptop, own a Surface RT, and preparing to buy a Surface Pro– but I’m having a huge struggle convincing people why they should upgrade. All people hear/see about it is “it’s different” and they don’t want to understand why it’s not a big deal. Telling them something they don’t need/want is going to cost $200 instead of $40 is going to really kill the incentive. I really wish you guys would reconsider.”

Microsoft’s pricing is also consistently significantly higher than equivalent upgrades for users of Apple’s Mac OS X operating system, the main rival to Windows on the desktop. The company currently makes Mac OS X upgrades available for around $20 consistently, downloadable through Apple’s own online store. In addition, the company’s upgrades to its iOS mobile operating system, which competes directly with Windows 8 on tablet devices, are generally free to users.

“What in the living h*ll? Why are they doing this? Jeez, give people even MORE reasons not to use Windows,” wrote another commenter on LeBlanc’s blog. “Remember how Mac users all have to pay premium rates to upgrade operating systems? Oh wait.”
The news comes as Australian analysts continue to be unenthusiastic about Windows 8’s adoption progress in Australia. In late November, for example, IDC market analyst Amy Cheah told the Sydney Morning Herald that Windows 8 take-up was “not as strong as Microsoft would like it to be”.

However, a number of major organisations around Australia, including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, MYOB, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, ING Direct, the Red Cross, McGrathNicholl and others are evaluating the software or have already committed to deploying it. Last week ZDNet revealed that the Federal Parliament was trialling Windows 8 tablets alongside existing iOS devices.

US$200 (and I bet it will be more in Australia, after the usual Microsoft Australia tax takes its toll) is much too much to pay for Windows 8, and personally I cannot for the life of me understand why Microsoft would believe that it can charge people this much.

The only real reason I can think of that Microsoft is hiking its Windows 8 prices in this manner is related to the ongoing recent rumblings within the IT industry that Redmond is increasingly transitioning away from its consumer roots as Apple eats its lunch in the smartphone/tablet space, and towards being a more pure play enterprise player.

Most of Microsoft’s revenues already come from its operations in the business and government sectors, where it’s almost mandatory to pay for its Windows and Office duopoly (not to mention the rest of its stack; SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server and so on). If Microsoft is broadly shifting its focus away from consumers and towards the enterprise (if we set aside its Xbox division for a second), you can imagine that the company will gradually cease to care whether consumers upgrade to the latest Microsoft operating system opus or not.

Speaking for myself, I have to say that personally, I know almost nobody who has upgraded to Windows 8 on their home machines, unless they explicitly work with Microsoft software professionally. Almost universally, all of my friends and colleagues are buying MacBooks, iMacs and iPads, switching their personal technology assets over to Apple. For most people I know, Windows 8 doesn’t even exist, and this price hike will make it even more irrelevant. Most people are still forced to use Windows at work; but at home, it’s a completely different story.

Image credit: Dell, Creative Commons


  1. Ridiculous! Will OEM prices increase as well? Even a $100 OEM price hike would lead to a significant price increase for all new Win8 Pro devices.

    I assumed Microsoft’s Windows 8 low pricing strategy was permanent for a couple of a reasons – 1.) To create interest among early adopters, as at $40 its really in the “why not?” category. And 2.) so that Microsoft’s OS pricing was more in line with OS X upgrades.

    After you tweak the hell out of Windows 8 to “de-metrofy” it, its actually a decent upgrade for all the behind the scenes improvements (and improved desktop apps like the new Task Manager) but in no way does the upgrade feel like its worth anything more than $40. Particularly for desktop users where Windows 8 is generally a step backwards with its touch-focused Metro UI. Like all other Windows 8 desktop users I know, I’ve deleted all Metro apps and only occasionally use Metro as a glorified start menu.

    There’s no way any regular PC users I know would consider paying anything close to $200 for the minimal improvements that Windows 8 offers. This is a really stupid move by Microsoft.

  2. “Almost universally, all of my friends and colleagues are buying MacBooks, iMacs and iPads, switching their personal technology assets over to Apple.”

    Do you not know many gamers?

    I totally agree on MS moving towards more of a focus on the Enterprise, and as a .NET business apps dev it’s a welcome move for me personally. But PC gaming would also be a strong area for them IMO.

    • Quite a few of the mates I have who are gamers have shifted away from the PC over the years as a gaming device and are now mainly on XBOX 360 or Playstation. Same with me personally.

      • Really? I guess I must be fussy, and I know a lot of PC gamers, but most people I know agree that current console graphics are well past being ugly. When the Xbox 720 and Playstation 4 are released it will be another matter (for a while anyway) but as it stands now DX11 PC games look so much better in 1080p than their console counterparts, providing you have a decent mid-range graphics card. Then you have the advantage of countless mods on PC, and of course the precise control of a mouse and keyboard for FPS games, which no controller is yet to match (I’ll generally use my XBox controller for everything else). Plus the PC doubles as a slick media centre using Plex or XBMC.

        I have an XBox 360, but I rarely power the noisy thing on any more. Instead I have an HDMI cable running from the PC in the study to the loungeroom, and I switch on Steam’s ‘Big Picture’ mode for a next-gen console like experience. Luckily my wireless keyboard, mouse and XBox controller signals are just strong enough to all use in the loungeroom (the signals only go through one wall). However I’m also thinking of building a dedicated SteamBox for the loungeroom later this year.

        • Why yes couch Computing IS awesome…

          Though most of the time the argument i hear is that a console is cheaper and the standardized hardware arguments etc. they’re reasonable arguments but i do approve of the whole full HD games… especially when the TV you use can handle that res without any issue and the bottleneck so to speak is the console itself.

      • no, I think he means *real* gamers.
        macs used to be cool, but you can do all that stuff on windows now.
        macs are for middle class showoffs with too much cash and no sense.

    • This might surprise you but there are actually a lot of titles available on the Mac platform. If you absolutely need Windows, you can dual boot (which I, like many others do) to game. The benefit of having to change O/S to play is that when you are ‘at work’ (work-from-home) you can’t skive off easily, so it keeps you focused.

  3. To put some perspective on this, short of the family I helped transition to Win7 (mostly from XP) – in the same way I am currently doing with Win8 – the majority of people I know who are currently running Windows of any flavour got it with their last PC purchase as the OEM default.

  4. Win 8 is only worth $40. I upgraded all the home machines to it when it was released. If it was any more than that, they would have stayed on Win 7 (and I was looking at a total switch to Linux just prior to the release).

    Microsoft is a rocket without guidance controls. It is going to be a bigger wreck than Vista.

    • Vista was a mess from design, usability, efficiency and performance perspectives. Windows 8 is technically MS’s best OS to date. The new interface isn’t to everyone’s liking, but using Metro as a start screen and forgetting about using Metro apps actually makes it more sensibly laid out than stupid heirarchical menus – you’re not forced to stay in Metro mode or use a single Metro app, and everyone who wails on about the restrictiveness of Metro and the Windows store merely shows their lack of understanding for (and use of) Win8.

      That doesn’t make Win8 beyond flaws – yes, improvements could be made, and some thought should be given to improving the interface for what will remain the dominant interface for years to come on the PC – the keyboard & mouse. Touch won’t make sense there for years, partly because it is cumbersome and tiring.

      But overall Win8 is MS’s most efficient AND most powerful OS ever, the file management system is a huge improvement, as are the diagnostic and management features. Windows Vista it definitely isn’t, and tbh such comparisons merely demonstrate a lack of knowledge (about both OS’s).

      • Worthy and valid grilling there Trevor. I should have made sure I explained myself better.

        I wasn’t comparing the technical merits of 8 vs Vista, mearly the way M$ is handling the situation.

        I agree it is chalk and cheese between the two.

        My main gripe is that they could ensure that everyone has an incentive to upgrade by continuing to make it cheap, making sure that people don’t need to think about alternatives (looking at Mac users getting their $20 upgrade to their OS or the Linux distros that are now looking very slick and still costing $0). Or saying, “you know what, my Windows xyz version still does what I want” – still a missed sale. At $40, I didn’t think twice, the credit card came out and I purchased, that wouldn’t have happened at the post January price.

        Jacking their price up will stall sales. If they think they are not moving enough now, I don’t see how they are going to move more once the price goes up.

  5. OEM prices for Win8 & Win8 Pro $149 & $189 respectively. Much cheaper when bundled with large OEM devices like notebooks (less than $50 for Pro, although you understand that’s not an official figure ;-) )

    Win8 is actually cheaper than any previous MS OS, both in actual and real terms. Yes, MS charges a lot (comparatively) for Windows as a standalone retail product. But retail sales are a drop in the ocean compared to preinstalled, which is the majority of their install base. That’s not likely to change unless someone strongly contests their market share, something even Apple have failed to do in any meaningful way at this point.

    • I paid 127 for my last win 7 pro oem license.

      dunno how you get those numbers as the ‘cheapest’ oem windows price in anyone’s money.

  6. Even at $40, I’m unwilling to fork over my cash. Now that it’s going to be $400, I won’t bother unless it comes pre-installed on my next desktop.

  7. That’s OK, because Microsoft will still get the same amount of money out of me for windows 8 as before, $0, because it’s terrible and I will never use it.

  8. I love that ‘buy it or else’ attitude, classic Redmond compassion for the consumer that rampaged through the 1990s.

  9. I wouldn’t buy Windows 8 for 40 bucks let alone 400. Biggest piece of shit I’ve ever seen since Vista and a big fuck you to consumers in light of MS move away from the public market.

  10. Been happy using Linux at home for the last 10 years and can’t see any reason to move to Windows. I haven’t paid the M$ tax for the last few desktop/laptop purchases as I build my own PCs and buy laptops that come without an OS, or the option to have Linux pre-installed.

    Forced to use Windows at work and must admit Win 7 does work better than Win XP but Win 8 will take another iteration before it is usable on the desktop. Win 8 makes more sense for mobile devices than a desktop. I certainly wouldn’t pay over $50 for an OS and since apps are moving towards being web based, it won’t be long before Windows becomes irrelevant for business as well as the home user.

  11. “Redmond is increasingly transitioning away from its consumer roots as Apple eats its lunch in the smartphone/tablet space, and towards being a more pure play enterprise player”

    I don’t agree with this analysis – The only reason I see that Microsoft developed the Metro side of Windows 8 is to go for the consumer market. I cannot see enterprise using/needing it.

    At our school we probably won’t upgrading to Win 8 any time soon as it will be a headache to retrain people (teachers) in basic things like logging off/shutting down!

    • “At our school we probably won’t upgrading to Win 8 any time soon as it will be a headache to retrain people (teachers) in basic things like logging off/shutting down!”

      Add the free Classic Shell which boots you straight into the desktop and adds the start button and they won’t even notice the difference from Win 7.

      The Win 8 ‘under the bonnet’ features are definitely an improvement on Win 7.

      • For a personal machine; a third party software shell is fine. I’d install it on my own machine no worries.

        But for a business machine, or a lab of business machines, (or a windows server 2012 machine) I won’t be installing a replacement shell from a third party. Not worth the security/support risk.

  12. I’m not planning to migrate to Win8 at the moment, but picked up a copy while it’s cheap.

  13. I purchased 2 copies of windows 8. At that $40 it made sense if they update 8 sometime in the future. One on my main PC that was downloaded but wont be installed (any improvements in the underlying OS are outweighed by the split personality UI).
    I have a copy on an old compac celeron laptop that I installed it on replacing Vista Basic. It improved the speed on the laptop and remarkably installed without issue. The first thing I did with this was install start 8 so I could avoid Metro. I only use the laptop once or twice a month and every time I do it reminds me why I haven’t updated my desktop.

  14. I still think Win8 is the best OS MS have released.
    If you can move past the start screen it’s a great OS and everything it adds to the OS that windows 7 does not have is well worth it.

    Saying MS is moving away from consumer is just wrong
    Win 8 is the biggest Play for consumer ever, it’s a consumer OS and will only get better over time seeing a version 1 of this new OS from MS

  15. I got 2 keys from my old uni for nothing, these will do me for now, not that I’ve used them.

    Can anyone tell me if it would be better for a media center? I hear you have to buy Windows Media Center in W8unless you use something like XBMC.

    • Windows 7 media center is identical.

      in fact it was widely publicised that the MCE team was fired/dispersed long before windows 8 was released.

      MCE that you pay extra for in win 8 is MCE from win 7 (with possibly a few of the patches preinstalled)

  16. Win 8 OEM can be bought for around $100, the pro version is full of unnecessary features that most people don’t really need.

    • Pro adds bit-locker, remote desktop support and domain networking. If you don’t need those features then sure, but if you ever do it will cost you $200 to upgrade after 1st Feb (assuming the in-place upgrade pricing is the same as Win7). I’ve seen this sting a lot of people who buy a consumer notebook and then want to connect to a corporate domain.

  17. Installed it on a reclaimbed winXP box to use as a media player. Only went with 8, because it was cheaper to get then upgrade to 7.

  18. “not as strong as Microsoft would like it to be”. That’s hardly news, would it ever be? Anyway it’s a massive yawn; most of the Windows 8 “sales” are coercive bundling deals with OEMs. Windows 7 is the new XP and hundreds of millions of people will still be using 7 in a decade.

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