On October 17 or 18, depending on your location (the Far East goes up, and the rest of the world pretty much goes down, date-wise) Windows 8.1 goes into General Availability status. On and after those dates, the only way to get Windows 8.1 will be to buy it, as such. Right now, if you search for “Shop for Windows 8 upgrade” you’ll find prices that run from a low of $49, and lots of deals for about $65 (the Microsoft Store price is $199.99). On the other hand, an OEM license for Windows 8 Pro runs from about $100 to $133 or so, and a full-blown (upgrade) license goes for $150 to $200 or thereabouts. There’s no reason to expect prices for Windows 8.1 Pro to be any different. And if experience is any teacher, the OEM versions won’t be widely available for some months after the initial, full-price GA release hits the street, either.
For once, Microsoft actually dispenses some smart buying advice for those who will upgrade to Windows 8.1 someday.
Why am I telling you this? Because the Windows 8.1 upgrade download is free to anyone who already has Windows 8 installed on the PC to be upgraded. Thus, it’s cheaper to obtain an upgrade to Windows 8 right now, and then to get the 8.1 upgrade later for free, than it will be to purchase a Windows 8.1 upgrade when those hit the market next month. As for myself, I took advantage of $25 and $50 upgrade prices to purchase upgrades for my Windows 7 machines when Windows 8 hit the streets last year, and for at least two of my machines — still running Windows 7 — this will cover me for Windows 8.1 as well.
Time, as they say, is running out. Be sure to snag such el-cheapo Windows 8 upgrades as you can find now, to save yourself some shekels on Windows 8.1 upgrades later. You’ve got a little over a month to make this happen, so happy online shopping!