Microsoft to offer cheap Windows 8 upgrades to everyone

You get a cheap Windows 8 upgrade! And you get a cheap Windows 8 upgrade! Everyone gets a cheap Windows 8 upgrade!

Yes, it seems, Microsoft has started channeling Oprah. On its Blogging Windows, er, blog, Microsoft has announced that just about anyone running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 will be entitled to a downloadable Windows 8 Professional upgrade for only $39.99—once the new operating system comes out, of course. Packaged upgrade DVDs will be available for $69.99, for folks with slow connections who'd rather not download the whole thing.

As icing on the cake, users who get a discounted upgrade will be able to snag a free copy of Media Center via Windows 8's "add features" option. Microsoft explained earlier this year that, in Windows 8, Media Center will an "economical 'media pack' add-on," not a built-in feature like in Windows 7 and Vista. It sounds like early adopters will be able to skip the "economical" part and move right on to "free."

The $39.99 upgrade promotion comes on the heels of another, similar offer, which Microsoft extended to buyers of new Windows 7 machines last month. Since June 2, certain new Windows 7 PCs have been eligible for $14.99 upgrades to Windows 8 Pro.

Both that upgrade offer and the one announced this week are scheduled to end on January 31, 2013. Since Windows 8 is due out this fall, that deadline should leave plenty of time for even stragglers to snag the new OS. Microsoft says both offers are available in 131 markets, too, which should cover just about everywhere (though the company doesn't list countries).

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