Microsoft announced this week that upgrading to Windows 8 Pro will only cost $40. The upgrade price is for a digital download of Windows 8 Pro via Windows.com and if you prefer to use the DVD version for the upgrade it will cost $70. Raise your hands if you saw this coming?
Right, no hands. Now, it's worth noting this won't be the actual price of a Windows 8 upgrade in perpetuity as it's a promotional price until Jan. 31, 2013.
By comparison, a Windows 7 Pro upgrade is $200; even Windows 7 Home Premium goes for $120. And then there's Apple. It charges only $30 for upgrades to OSX every year. Sure, there are only incremental features added, but if you had to choose between buying a Windows update once every five years for $120 or dropping $30 every year for incremental improvements, which would you choose?
That's not a loaded question. Enterprises rarely upgrade their desktop OSes and the average PC consumer tends to upgrade only when they buy a new computer. But, would more PC users upgrade on a yearly basis if those upgrade releases were smaller, easier to do, and cost minimal amounts of money? Would enterprises may be more willing to update their OSes every year or ever other year if they know the migration process will be cost efficient and relatively painless?
That's not to suggest that one approach is better than the other, it's just an interesting question to pose in light of Apple's growing desktop/laptop market share versus the declining PC industry share. While it's impossible to draw correlations between the typical Apple approach to updating and selling OSes with this news from Microsoft, one has to wonder if Microsoft could shift directions in how they approach new versions of Windows. It's not a stretch to argue that Microsoft made a huge shift in its business approach with the introduction of the Surface tablet last month. That was a direct shot across the Apple bow, even as it mimicked the Apple approach to coupling hardware and software.