Microsoft has already made it known that they wanted to streamline their Windows 8 product offerings. Gone are Ultimate edition, Starter, and Basic. In retail stores, only two flavors will be offered when the new OS ships this October: Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.
But in the past there’s been added confusion for shoppers when it came to retail boxed copies. With previous versions, shoppers could choose from either the full version DVD, the upgrade, or the money-saving OEM/system builder edition. The difference being the upgrade was meant to install on a system that already had a valid Windows installation, but that’s never been a strict requirement. Upgrade discs could be used to perform a full install, too, so long as you could provide a valid product key for a previous version of Windows.
Then there’s the OEM version. Plenty of places sell this flat-packed, shrink-wrapped version, and it’s aimed at DIY enthusiasts who want to build a machine from scratch. It’s almost exactly the same as the full retail version of Windows, except that it doesn’t come with 90 days of free tech support and the license is meant to stay on a single computer — so you might have to call in and reactivate with Microsoft if you replace a hard drive or mainboard in your computer if you used a system builder disc.
With all this crossover, it’s easy to see why Microsoft would choose to not produce a full retail boxed Windows 8 DVD. Instead the choice will be between upgrade and OEM editions. By doing this, they’ll save money not only by producing fewer varieties, but also by not having to provide tech support to quite as many people.
The real winner here is shoppers and sales associates, who won’t have to spend hours sorting out which version is the right one to take home… as long they are clear on the differences between Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro.
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