Ina Fried

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At $40, Microsoft Charging Far Less For Windows 8 Than Past Updates

Microsoft said on Monday that an upgrade to Windows 8 from recent past versions will cost just $40 — much less than Redmond has charged in the past.

The $40 price applies for those running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, and who download it from Microsoft’s Web site before the end of January. A version at retail stores will cost $70, at least through Jan. 31, Microsoft said in a blog post.

Microsoft is characterizing this as a special promotion and not its official pricing for the software. The company has run limited-time offers in the past with new Windows versions. With Windows 7, for example, it offered three copies of the software in a “family pack” for $150. The promotional pricing for Windows 8 can be used to purchase up to five copies for $40 apiece.

The company would not say what its pricing will be once the promotion ends, nor what it will charge for the full copies of the software needed for running it on virtual machines (including when using Windows on a Mac).

Microsoft hasn’t given a firm date for the arrival for the major Windows update, but it has issued a near final “release preview” version, and said it is aiming to have it on new PCs and retail shelves by the holidays.

Apple has been leading the way toward cheaper operating system upgrades, charging just $20 or $30 for recent updates, including Lion and Snow Leopard.

Microsoft always has incentives to get existing users to update to the latest version of Windows, although this time around it quickly needs as large a base as possible to encourage developers to create new-style Metro apps that only run on Windows 8.

Typically, most users of a new version of Windows come from those buying a new PC, though it gets a nice boost to its bottom line from the initial boxed sales of a new Windows version.

Depending on which version of Windows is being moved to Windows 8, users will have the option of doing a clean installation or keeping their past files and applications. With Windows Vista or Windows XP, only a user’s personal files will be maintained, and programs will have to be reinstalled.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”