The rumors were true: as of last Saturday, buying a Windows 7 PC may entitle you to a cheap upgrade to Windows 8. Microsoft announced this Windows Upgrade Offer promotion last week, but the details were buried in the Windows 8 Release Preview debut announcement. Here's the relevant snippet:
Beginning June 2, 2012, Microsoft will roll out the Windows Upgrade Offer in 131 markets, including the U.S. and Canada. Consumers who buy eligible Windows 7-based PCs through Jan. 31, 2013, can purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for an estimated retail price of $14.99 (U.S.) during the time of the promotion. More information about the Windows Upgrade Offer will be available June 1. In addition to the Windows Upgrade Offer designed for consumers buying new Windows 7-based PCs, Microsoft will also announce other offers in the coming months that will help consumers with existing Windows 7-based PCs upgrade to Windows 8 when it is generally available.
Microsoft doesn't get into specifics about those "other offers" for Windows 7 systems bought before June 2. For what it's worth, though, Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade licenses went on sale for $49.99 a pop (half the normal price) a few months before Windows 7's commercial release in 2009. If we're lucky, Windows 8 upgrades might be slapped with a similar discount later this year.
Windows 8 is due out at some point before the holidays. Microsoft has yet to settle on an exact release date.