Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
Whether I’m working, wasting time on Facebook, or watching a movie on Netflix, it seems like I’m always on my laptop. So when mine finally kicked the bucket a few weeks ago, I panicked a bit. (OK, I panicked a lot.)I was looking for a replacement when I found out that Microsoft is releasing their new operating system – Windows 8 – early next year. I can’t wait several months to buy a new laptop with the newest OS, but I don’t want to spend money on something I know will become outdated soon.
I was sure I was going to get a bad deal either way – until I found an offer from Microsoft.
Microsoft is offering a cheap upgrade offer for people who buy a new PC. If you’re like me and need a new one now, you won’t have to spend a fortune to upgrade to the new OS later. And if you’re not in the market for a computer, you can still upgrade your OS pretty cheaply.
Here are the details…
Windows 8 upgrade for new computers
If you buy a new qualified PC from now until Jan. 31, 2013, you can upgrade to Windows 8 for $14.99. In order for the PC you’re eyeing to qualify, it must meet these specifications:
- Purchased between June 2, 2012, and January 31, 2013
- Has a valid Windows 7 OEM product key (typically listed on the back of the computer)
- Came pre-installed with Windows 7
Once you purchase your new computer, you’ll need to visit the promotional offer site to register for the upgrade deal. Once Microsoft releases the official copy of Windows 8, you’ll receive an email with a link to download the new OS.
From there, you can create your own installation media (through CD or USB) at no additional cost. If you want a DVD version of the upgrade CD, you’ll have to pay extra and wait for the DVDs to ship from Microsoft.
Windows 8 upgrade for old computers
You don’t have to buy a new computer to get the latest OS. In the past, Microsoft has made their OS available for sale online and in stores for a hefty price. (For example, Windows 7, which ran from $199.99 to $319.99 for the full packages.) But they’re doing things a bit differently this time.
Once Windows 8 is released, you can upgrade from XP, Vista, or Windows 7 to Windows 8 for $39.99. You’ll have to upgrade online to get the special price, but it’s a good deal compared to older pricing models.
How to make sure you get it
If you’re buying a new computer, make sure the offer is good for the model before you buy. Several online electronic dealers have the program information listed on their sites, as well as on the sales page for the individual computers. If you’re not sure, call before you buy.
In my case, the upgrade offer was listed on the site, and I received a printed confirmation showing I was eligible with my new laptop.
If you’re buying in store, ask the sales rep for written documentation of the offer. While most computers with Windows 7 will qualify, it doesn’t hurt to have written proof on hand should a problem come up when the OS is released.
Once you have your computer, visit Microsoft’s Windows 8 Upgrade Offer site to sign up.
Try before you buy
The Windows 8 offers won’t be good deals if you don’t actually like the product. Fortunately, you can try Windows 8 free before you buy it. First, Microsoft has a short video on Windows 8 that will give you an idea of some of the features available on the new OS.
If you like what you see, you can get a free trial of Windows 8 to install on your computer. But proceed with caution. The free trial has two big disadvantages:
- You’ll have to download and install the trial to a disc or USB device.
- Once you install the trial version of Windows 8, you’ll have to reinstall Windows 7 to get things back to the way they were.
If you’re not used to working with an OS, you may want to skip the trial offer. If you are, it’s a good way to test it out before you buy. You can download the trial version on the Microsoft site.
What are your thoughts on Windows 8? Is the cheap price enough of an incentive to upgrade? Sound off on our Facebook page and tell us about it.