That new Windows 8 operating system -- the one Microsoft is hoping will change the world with its sleek design and crazy interconnectedness between computers, tablets, and phones -- is now available for purchase. If you've already got a licensed copy of Windows, you can upgrade to a full version of Windows 8 at prices as low as $14.99.
Of course, "available for purchase" does not mean "available to use". Microsoft is just taking advance orders for Windows 8, which won't actually be available until October 26. If you put off your purchase for a few months, though, be aware that the price is going up more than 200% on February 1, 2013.
A slew of very affordable Windows 8 upgrade deals are available at WindowsUpgradeOffer.com. That's Microsoft's official Windows 8 upgrade site, but it's so badly and generically designed that it looks like an expired domain site that cybersquatters use for ads. You find your country and language from the home page list, and then sign up for your upgrade.
The Windows 8 purchase process will change the way you buy software. Or at least, it will change the way you buy the software you buy from huge, uptight mega-corporations. Microsoft has finally moved to an online purchase model instead of physical disks (though you can request the disks for a small additional fee). But lordy, Microsoft will ask you to give up lots of very detailed documentation and personal information.
You will need to provide your email and phone number. You will need to provide the exact date on which you purchased your current version of Windows. You will also need to provide the name of the retailer who sold you your computer, the brand of your computer, and your computer's model name.
Craig's List computer buyers, this deal is not meant for you. This deal does, though, zap buyers a fully functioning Windows 8 -- sent as a digital download with no disk -- as soon as the product is available
The Windows 8 upgrade prices vary, but they really are quite affordable. If you recently bought Windows 7 this summer, you can upgrade to Windows 8 for just $14.99. If you're like most people running Windows 7, XP, or Vista purchased prior to this summer, you can upgrade to Windows 8 for $39.99.
The more souped-up Windows 8 Pro will retail at $69.99, according to tech blog The Verge. But that price skyrockets to $199 when this introductory offer ends on Jan 31, 2012 -- an increase of 285%.
The regular, "non-Pro" Windows 8 upgrade deals mentioned above will also expire on Jan. 31. Microsoft has not announced what these prices will then increase to.
The regular retail price of Windows 8 for those not currently licensed still also has not been announced. If you do not have a licensed copy of Windows right now, you are not part of Microsoft's most coveted marketing demographic. You'll have to wait a little longer for this information.
Buyers wanting physical disks for Windows 8 can buy them for an additional $15, plus shipping and handling.