Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 is now available for pre-order from the company’s website ahead of its October 18th release.
Pre-orders for the latest and largest update to the Windows operating began this morning, a little over two weeks before the company has said that it plans to release Windows 8.1 to users. While today’s pre-order kickoff didn’t reveal any new information about the operating system, it confirmed all the information Microsoft shared on how users would get the update.
As announced this past September, users looking to pick up a physical version of the operating system, that is a DVD with Windows 8.1 on it, will have to purchase it at their local retailer or online for $119.99. It’s important to remember that as the operating system will begin rolling out to users as a free download on October 17th, users with Window 8 don’t need to purchase a copy at all.
These upgrades are only intended for users upgrading PCs with older operating systems like Windows 7 or Windows Vista. Pre-order pages for both versions of Windows 8.1 indicate that users upgrading from either of those operating systems will need to reinstall their applications following their upgrade, though their data will remain intact. That being said, users should back up their data anyway.
Windows 8.1 Pro will cost business and professional minded users $199.99 for a physical copy. Like Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro will roll out as a free update, though only users with Windows 8 Pro will get to update to Windows 8.1 Pro.
Functionally, both operating systems are identical from a home user’s perspective. However, Windows 8.1 Pro allows computers to run virtualized desktops, encrypt file systems and be controlled by IT departments. Windows 8.1 also allows users to purchase an add-on to restore the Windows Media Center software that Microsoft removed from Windows last year.
Users who aren’t sure about which operating system they need, will likely only need Windows 8.1, but it doesn’t hurt to consult Microsoft’s charts before purchasing the software.
Those who pre-order copies of Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro from the Microsoft Store won’t be charged until their copy of the operating system actually ships.
While Windows 8.1 doesn’t tone done any of the major changes Microsoft introduced with Window 8.1, it does include more than a few refinements to the operating system. That includes more customization options for the Start Screen, enhancements for built-in applications like Music and the return of the Start Button to the Desktop taskbar.