When the Windows 8.1 update arrives in stores later this year, it’ll match the pricing structure Windows 8.
That’s according to Microsoft, who detailed its plans for launching the update in retail stores earlier today. For the most part, its approach to Windows 8.1 launching in stores will mirror that of Windows 8. Users will be able to pick up copies of Windows 8.1 on store shelves in two versions, Windows 8.1 for $119, and Windows 9.1 Pro for $199. Those are the same prices that users can pick up Windows 8 for today.
Users who already have Windows 8 won’t need to pay for Windows 8.1, these packages are solely meant for users upgrading from older operating systems or building new devices.
It’s Windows 8.1 that ships on most consumer PCs, while Windows 8.1 Pro is meant for businesses and professionals who need advanced features like Bit-Locker hard drive encryption to protect their data. Both versions of the operating system will allow users to install the operating system on their PCs without having to first downgrade to their previous version of Windows and then use an upgrade DVD anytime they restore their PC.
Windows XP and Windows Vista users won’t be able to directly upgrade to Windows 8.1 and keep their installed applications. Instead, PCs running these operating systems will only be able to bring their files forward. Any applications that are installed on the PC will need to be reinstalled after the update. Windows 7 users will also need to reinstall their desktop applications after the update.
Users who have Windows 8.1 can add all the settings of Windows 8.1 Pro to their PC at a cost of $99.99. Microsoft says users who need Windows Media Center can add the software to Windows 8.1 Pro for $9.99.
None of this changes the free nature of the Windows 8.1 update. Users who already have PCs running Windows 8 will get notifications to upgrade to Windows 8.1 free of charge. Among other things, Windows 8.1 adds more customization options to the Windows 8.1 Start Screen, Metro multi-tasking improvements, new versions of the operating system’s built in applications like Mail and Music plus the ability to boot directly to the Windows desktop.