Microsoft Details $14.99 Win 8 Pro Upgrade for Win 7 PC Buyers
Microsoft began promoting a Windows 8 Pro upgrade on Monday for anyone who has purchased -- or intends to purchase -- an eligible Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012, and Jan. 31, 2013. Users can register their PC purchases at the Windows Upgrade Offer Web site using the 25-digit Windows 7 product key that came with the new machine.
"You will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $14.99, which will be redeemable when Windows 8 is generally available on October 26" -- at which time Microsoft also will be offering a $39.99 Win 8 Pro upgrade to all Windows 7 PC users, said Windows blogger Brandon LeBlanc.
However, business professionals will need to carefully consider how an upgrade to Win 8 Pro will affect their work-related activities. Extremely important Win 8 menus hidden off screen are easily brought in when using a touch-enabled device but are absent when using non-touch PCs equipped with a standard keyboard and mouse, said Gartner Research Director Gunnar Berger.
"You have to drag your mouse to the top-right corner, wait a second, and the right thumb menu will pop out," Berger wrote in a blog. "I can't tell you the last time I had to ask someone how to do something in a client OS."
On the other hand, Gartner expects to see a lot of Win 8 polishing under way during the next six months as a flood of new hardware and software solutions are introduced.
"The PC industry is full of creative people who will find ways to plug perceived holes --- it's one of the beauties of the market," Gartner Vice President Steve Kleynhans told us. "This will be a fast-paced dynamic market, and lots will change over the next year."
Plugging Perceived Holes
We asked Al Hilwa, director of application development software research at IDC, whether the Win 8 menus hidden off-screen will pose a major problem for business professionals and enterprises deploying Microsoft's next-generation OS.
"Generally speaking, Windows 8 brings more user-interface complexity, to which users will be extremely sensitive," Hilwa said. "While there is significant optimization value in Win 8 beyond touch, there is no way around the notion that its key added-value is the hybridization of touch and mouse in a new paradigm."
Hilwa believes that enterprise IT departments looking at developing tablet touch apps for mobile sales and field forces as well as other worker groups will be giving Windows 8 a serious look, because the next-generation OS is more congruent with their infrastructures than today's other tablet platforms.
"[But] most other enterprises are likely to hold off until they reach a critical mass of touch-enabled devices as part of their incremental device replacement policies," Hilwa said.
Firsthand Evaluation Required
With respect to the enterprise market as a whole, Microsoft also rolled out a free 90-day trial of Windows 8 Professional last week. According to IDC Vice President Al Gillen, the ultimate goal for organizations here is to get exposure to the newest Windows client operating system version.
"Windows 8 Enterprise is a SKU that only Software Assurance subscribers have access to, so there are two distinct efforts rolled up here," Gillen told us. "One is to get customers to play with the release-to-manufacturing bits for Windows 8, the second is to expose non-SA customers to the benefits included in Windows 8 Enterprise, since this download is not exclusive to SA customers."
Gillen believes IT departments that use Windows client OS solutions should evaluate Windows 8 first-hand, so they have an understanding for how this product will -- or will not -- integrate into their environment, support their existing application portfolio, and so on.
"This is a normal process that medium and large organizations go through when a new version of the Windows client portfolio is released," Gillen said.