Windows 8 is (or will be) available in just two editions for home PC users; Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro. Neither edition includes Media Center or support for DVD playback. Media Center cannot be added to Windows 8 but will be available to purchase as an add-on for Windows 8 Pro. I cannot see any reason why the DVD playback issue could not easily be resolved by installing one of the good, free third party media players such as VLC.
Here is a run down of features included in Windows 8 Pro which are missing from the standard Windows 8:
- BitLocker encryption
- Boot from VHD
- Join a Windows domain
- Group Policy
- Hyper-V (on 64-bit systems with SLAT capable CPU)
- Windows Media Center (via purchased add-on)
- Remote Desktop – Client & Host (Windows 8 includes Client only)
You can view a full feature comparison chart on Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_8_editions
I’ve hunted all around the net and as far as I can see there is still no official word from Microsoft on an exact overall pricing structure. However, we can ascertain some aspects of pricing through dribs and drabs of information posted on Microsoft related blogs and via pre-order details from retail outlets.
Here is what we now know for certain:
- Windows 8 Pro upgrade is now available to pre-order through selected retailers at $69.99us.
- If you purchase (or have purchased) an eligible Windows 7 PC any time between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 you will be able to purchase an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $14.99us – redeemable commencing 26th October.
- Microsoft is set to offer an online Windows 8 Pro upgrade for $39.99us, available from 26th October through 31st January 2013 (a backup DVD will also be available for an additional $15.00).
*According to an article posted on Windows Blog, Media Center will be available free to everyone who upgrades via Microsoft’s $39.99 online process:
We set out to make it as easy as possible for everyone to upgrade to Windows 8. Starting at general availability, if your PC is running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 you will qualify to download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99. And if you want, you can add Windows Media Center for free through the “add features” option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade.
Also, online retailer Newegg is currently offering the following ‘deals’ on Windows 8 pre-orders:
- Windows 8 Professional Upgrade – $69.99 (save $130)
- Windows 8 Pro Pack – Product Key Card (no media) – $69.99 (save $30)
- Windows 8 (Full Version) – OEM $99.99
- Windows 8 Pro (Full Version) – OEM $139.99
In case you were wondering, the ‘Windows 8 Pro Pack’ is for upgrading Windows 8 to Windows 8 Pro. Meaning that if you originally purchased Windows 8 and then wish to upgrade to Pro you will currently have to fork out a further $69.99 for the privilege. This also looks set to increase at promotion’s end, by $30.00 to $99.90. Although, according to an article posted on the MSDN blog, the Pro Pack does include Media Center.
From what I have read, and based on the pricing structure as it currently stands, it appears the Pro edition represents the sweeter deal. The best (least expensive) option for anyone looking to upgrade, other than those who are eligible for the $14.99 deal, certainly appears to be Microsoft’s $39.99 online offer.
*Those who are eligible for the special $14.99 upgrade price have until February 28th, 2013 to register… here is a link to full instructions: Windows Upgrade Offer Registration Now Available.
**Details regarding pricing are relevant to the U.S. – other countries may vary.