The current deals include a $39.99 online upgrade to Windows 8 Pro from most recent versions of the operating system, including Windows XP (Service Pack 3), Windows Vista and Windows 7. Starting Feb. 1, the same upgrade will run you $199.99 -- five times the current price. The current $69.99 price tag on a Windows 8 upgrade DVD will also jump, to $199.99.
"We are seeing good momentum with Windows 8 today," said Microsoft communications manager Brandon LeBlanc in a blog post announcing the new pricing.
[ Windows 8's hard climb has added to the PC industry's woes. Read What PC Makers Must Do Now. ]
The company recently said it has sold 60 million licenses for Windows 8, which was made generally available last October. Windows executive Tami Reller said at CES that number puts Windows 8 "roughly in line with where we would have been with Windows 7" in a similar timeframe. Windows 7 has sold more than 630 million licenses worldwide, and it eventually eclipsed Windows XP as the most popular OS ever. Reller made a related announcement back in November, telling the audience at the Credit Suisse 2012 Annual Technology Conference that Windows 8 upgrades were outpacing Windows 7 upgrades in a comparable time period.
In spite of Microsoft's self-reported sales figures for Windows 8, analysts have been less enthusiastic.
Although it would have been naive to expect Microsoft's bargain pricing to last forever, the imminent hike certainly seems like an indication of confidence in Windows 8 -- or at least an attempt to goose sales during the remainder of January. The cynic might note, too, Microsoft's choice to announce the end of its upgrade offers on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend. The new online upgrade price represents a 500% price spike for existing PC users. At $200, consumers in particular might be better served simply buying a new machine.
Speaking of which: Recent Windows 7 PC buyers will get a bit more time to decide whether to move up to Windows 8 on the cheap. Microsoft's Windows Upgrade Offer enables anyone who purchases a Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013, to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99. Those customers will have until Feb. 28 to register for the deal.
Windows 8 Pro Pack, which allows customers who purchase a base Windows 8 PC model to move up to the Pro edition for $69.99, will cost $99.99 as of Feb. 1. The Windows 8 Media Center Pack, currently available free of charge, will cost $9.99.
The early comments on Microsoft's blog post, many of them from self-proclaimed Windows 8 fans, were mostly a mix a bewilderment and pessimism. "I love Windows 8, but this pricing is going [to] be way too high to convince people to upgrade," wrote Ds2600.
Poster threecleartones was a bit more blunt: "I also love Windows 8, so it saddens me that what's going to kill it is the horrible marketing and messaging around it. First of all, nobody's going to pay $200 for it." She added that Microsoft wasn't doing enough to distinguish between the entry-level version of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.
The coming price hike didn't sit well with GoodThings2Life, either, who noted that a five-fold increase won't do much to convince existing Windows 7 or XP users to make the leap. "I think this is a very big mistake for Microsoft to make. I'm a huge advocate of Windows 8." GoodThings2Life said that he is running the OS on a laptop and also owns a Surface RT tablet, with plans to add a Surface Pro, too. But he has found that when he tries to convince others of Windows 8's merits, the sermon falls on deaf ears -- and that was with the door-buster prices.
"Telling them something they don't need [or] want is going to cost $200 instead of $40 is going to really kill the incentive," he said. "I really wish you guys would reconsider."
InformationWeek is conducting a survey on cloud computing usage and optimization strategies. Take our InformationWeek 2013 State of Cloud Computing Survey now. Survey ends Jan. 25.