Windows 8.1 Coming October 18th As Downloadable ISO and Retail DVD SKUs

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2013 - 07:53 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, microsoft

Microsoft has been developing Windows 8.1 over the summer, and the free update to Windows 8 is almost ready for consumers. Set for official release on October 18, Windows 8.1 will be available as a downloadable ISO and physical DVD in retail packaging. Microsoft will offer up Windows 8.1, Windows 8.1 Pro, and a Windows 8.1 Pro Pack (which upgrades an existing Windows 8.1 install to Pro).

Windows 8_1, 8_1 Pro, and Pro Pack Retail Packaging.jpg

The new operating system will be available as full version software, which means that users will not have to upgrade from an earlier version of Windows. The asking price gets a full retail key which can be used on its own to install Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro in a VM, a new system build with no prior OS, or in a dual boot environment. As far as installation and upgrade options, users will be able to perform upgrade or clean installs using the installation media. Microsoft recommends that Vista and XP users backup all files and perform a clean install of both the OS and applications. On the other hand, the company has encouraged Windows 7 users to go through the update process where users will be able to keep personal files. However, even Windows 7 users will have to re-install any applications that do not come bundled with Windows. Users that are already running Windows 8 can grab the free update and safely do an in-place install/update to Windows 8.1 from the Windows Store.

If users have OEM machines that come pre-installed with Windows 8.1, they will be able to add on the Pro features (including being eligible for Windows Media Center) by purchasing the Pro Pack upgrade rather than needing to purchase a full Windows 8.1 Pro download or DVD.

The various Windows 8.1 flavors will be available on October 18th. The base Windows 8.1 will cost $119.99 while Windows 8.1 Pro will cost $199.99. The Windows 8.1 Pro upgrade pack will be available later this year following sometime after Windows 8.1's launch for $99.99. Note that these are prices for users without prior licenses. Users that are already running Windows 8 can upgrade to Windows 8.1 for free.

For comparison, full versions of Windows 8.0 and Windows 8.0 Pro were $99.99 and $139.99 at launch respectively.

Will you be upgrading to Windows 8.1?

Source: Hexus.net

Microsoft Giving Away Free Media Center Keys For Windows 8

Subject: General Tech | October 28, 2012 - 04:55 AM |
Tagged: wmc, windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, microsoft, free

Microsoft has decided to separate Windows Media Center from its latest operating system, making it a paid add-on to Windows 8 Pro. This has the consequence of making users wanting to upgrade their home theater PCs to Windows 8 have to pay not only for the more expensive Pro version but the add-on pack with WMC as well. Needless to say, I was less than pleased to hear that news. Especially, since CableCard users are stuck with WMC if they want to watch or record any shows flagged with anything more restrictive than copy freely (copy once, copy never).

Fortunately, Microsoft has backed away ever so slightly from that position by giving away free WMC keys to users until January 31, 2013. You will still need to pony up for the Pro version of Windows 8, but at least you will not have to pay for the add-on pack to get what is essentially the same media center that is available in Windows 7.

WMC_Windows 7_Program Guide_Most Viewed Channels.png

You can obtain a key by heading over to this Microsoft web page and entering your email address. The company is offering up a single key per email address. Even if you do not currently have Windows 8, it might be prudent to grab a key just in case. Note that you will need to activate the key by January 2013 or it will expire, however.

Once you have Windows 8 Pro installed, to add Windows Media Center, open up the Start Screen and search for “add features.” Click on “Settings” and then “Add features to Windows 8.” You will then be prompted for a product key, and once you input the key Microsoft emailed to you, follow the remaining prompts to install it. A restart will be required (and is automatic, so save any open documents!), and then you can get your WMC fix.

The promotion will end on January 2013 so grab the free keys while they last!

Read more about Windows 8 at PC Perspective.

Source: Microsoft

Pricing of Retail Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro SKUs Revealed

Subject: General Tech | October 13, 2012 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, upgrade, pricing, microsoft

The official release of Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 operating system is later this month on the 26th. Previously, Microsoft had announced promotional pricing for online upgrade versions, but retail pricing was unknown. Now, we are starting to see pricing for boxed editions of the OS that are available for pre-order from various retailers.

 

Image credit: The Verge.

The boxed editions will come with install media in the form of a DVD, but the in place upgrade pack and online promo deals will not come with any media. In that case, you will need to download an .ISO file from Microsoft's Digital River website. The pack that many home theater PC enthusiasts will want is the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade Pack that will upgrade a base Windows 8 install to Windows 8 Pro with Windows Media Center. Unfortunately, we do not yet know how much the base Windows 8 Upgrade SKU will cost – only that the full System Builder (OEM) edition will be $99 at retail. Depending on the price of the add-on pack with WMC, it may be better to go with the Windows 8 Pro Upgrade for $39.99 (promo until January 31, 2013) and buy the add-on separately. It's difficult to say either way since we don't know what the final prices for the add-on will be.

Windows 8 SKU Media Pricing Pricing after Promo
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade (with OEM PC) None $14.99 N/A
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade (Online) None $39.99 $69.99
Windows 8 Pro Upgrade DVD $69.99 $199.99
Windows 8 System Builder DVD $99.99 ?
Windows 8 Pro System Builder DVD $139.99 ?
Windows 8 Pro Pack In-Place Upgrade None $69.99 $99.99

If you already have a copy of a previous edition of Windows (XP, Vista, or 7), you will be able to get Windows 8 fairly cheap thanks to the promotional pricing. If you are wanting to get Windows 8 onto a new machine without a previous license however, it's going to cost you. Personally, I would have liked to see Microsoft offer better promo pricing on non-upgrade versions as well. Currently, Newegg has several Windows 8 SKUs up for pre-order along with a shell shocker promo code (EMCJNJH82) for $10 off a pre-order until the end of the weekend.

What do you think about the pricing? Will you be buying into Windows 8 on the 26th?

Lenovo Planning Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8 RT Tablets

Subject: Mobile | August 12, 2012 - 11:25 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, Thinkpad, tegra 3, tablet, slate, Lenovo

Earlier this year Microsoft unveils its plans for Windows 8 and its self-designed Surface tablets. Most machines will come with the full version of Windows 8, but some OEMs will be shipping ARM-powered mobile devices with the stripped-down Windows RT version. Microsoft is further delving into the hardware game by designing its own hardware with the Surface tablet and accessories. It will come in two versions, one with an ARM processor and Windows RT and another with an Intel Core i5 processor and Windows 8 Pro.

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According to several leaks around the web throughout the week, Lenovo is taking the Surface to heart and planning its own two-pronged approach. The Lenovo ThinkPad 2 will be running Windows Pro with an x86-64 processor while the Windows RT version will be packing an NVIDIA Tegra 3 SoC.

Unfortunately, there are essentially no other specifics to the rumor other than sources for the Wall Street Journal confirming its existence and that it will be of the convertible tablet form factor.

DSC_7526-hero_gallery_post.jpg

The Verge got hands-on with the ThinkPad 2 tablet. A keyboard, touchscreen, stylus, and pointing stick... input options abound!

On the other hand, there is a lot more meat to the ThinkPad 2 rumors, and it looks like a nice lightweight mobile workhorse. Allegedly the ThinkPad 2 is being developed as a “joint effort” with Intel and Microsoft. It weighs in at 1.3 pounds, is 9.8mm thick, and holds a 10.1-inch 1366x768 display. Running a full version of Windows 8, the ThinkPad 2 tablet is powered by an Intel Atom processor. Other features include an 8 megapixel and 2 megapixel camera on the back and front respectively as well as micro-HDMI port, fingerprint reader, and stylus. NFC and Wi-Fi are also very likely to be included, and a 3G/4G cellular radio will be an optional add-on. A separate keyboard accessory will allow users to dock the tablet and have access to a full keyboard with pointing stick. Alternatively, there is a dock attachment that adds an HDMI output, Ethernet jack, and three USB ports.

With the release of Windows 8 on October 26 official, it is likely that the two Lenovo ThinkPad tablets will be launched on–or shortly after–that date (the RT version might be delayed more so than the x86 tablet if I had to guess). No word yet on pricing, but here’s hoping that the prices are competitive with the Surface counterparts. 

It is not promising to see Lenovo going with Atom of all things for the x86-64 version, but that may just mean it will be one of the lower-cost tablets able to run the full version of Windows 8. As a fan of ThinkPads and styluses (styli?), I shall try to remain open minded until reviews come out with some benchmarks showing off the performance–or lack thereof (but remember, trying to stay positive here heh).

You can find more photos of the Intel Atom-powered ThinkPad 2 tablet over at The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Windows Media Center To Be A Pro Only Feature In Windows 8

Subject: General Tech | May 7, 2012 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: windows media center, Windows 8 Pro, windows 8, upgrade, htpc

News is circulating around the Internet that Microsoft is taking Windows Media Center out of Windows 8 and offering it as a separate paid add-on for Windows 8 Pro users. Many are not happy about the decision.

Windows Media Center is an application developed by Microsoft that provides a TV friendly interface for all the media on your computers including photos, videos, music, and television. That last function is quite possibly the biggest feature of WMC as it allows users to ditch their cable set top box (STB) and turn their computer into a TV tuner and DVR with the proper hardware.

Windows8MediaCenter.jpg

Windows 8 Metro With Media Center Icon

The program debuted as a special edition of Windows called Windows XP Media Center Edition. It was then rolled into the general release of Windows Vista and then into many editions of Windows 7. Windows Media Center has a relatively small user base relative to the number of general Windows users, but they are a vocal and enthusiastic minority. About a month ago, I got a CableCard from Comcast (after a week of... well, let’s just say it’s not a pleasant experience) and after pairing it with the HDHomeRun Prime and my Windows 7 machines, i was able to watch and record TV on any of the computers in my house as well as on the living room TV via an Xbox 360 acting as a Windows Media Center extender. I have to say that the setup is really solid, I have all the expandable DVR space I could want, and the WMC interface is so much snappier than any cable or satellite set top box I’ve ever used. Windows 7 became that much more valuable once I was able to utilize Windows Media Center.

With that said, it is still a niche feature and I understand that not everyone needs or wants to use it. It is even a feature that I would pay for should Microsoft unbundle it. Yet, when I read a bit of news concerning Windows 8 and WMC over the weekend, I was not happy at all. According to an article at Tested.com, Microsoft is going to unbundle Windows Media Center for Windows 8 into a separate downloadable Media Center pack with a currently unknown price (so far, I’m disappointed but still willing to accept it). The Media Center pack will be made available for purchase and download using the “Add Features To Windows 8” control panel option–what was known as Windows Anytime Upgrade in previous versions of Windows.

WMC_Windows7.png

Windows Media Center in Windows 7 - TV Guide

What is confusing (and what I find infuriating) is that users will only be able to purchase the Media Center pack if they are using the Pro version of Windows 8, leaving home users out of luck. Due to Windows 8 Pro essentially being the Ultimate Edition of previous Windows versions, it is definitely going to cost more than the base version, and that is rather disconcerting. I have no problem paying for the Media Center pack, but I do have a problem with Microsoft artificially limiting who has the right to purchase it to begin with. It just seems downright greedy of them and is a big disservice to Media Center’s faithful users. Microsoft should go with one method or the other, not both. For example, they should unbundle Media Center, and allow users of any desktop (not RT, in other words) Windows 8 version to purchase it. Alternatively, if they are going to limit Media Center to be a Pro version only feature, it should be a free download. Users should not have to pay for the privilege to pay for the software, especially when Microsoft has said that Windows 8 Media Center will not be very different from the one in Windows 7 and will only contain minor improvements.

Rick Broida of PC World has been a bit more straightforward in stating his opinion of Microsoft’s decision in saying “I’m hopping mad.” And I tend to agree with his sentiments, except for WMC needing to be free. I’d be happy to pay for it if it means Microsoft continues to support it. I just have an issue with the pricing situation that the news of the decision is suggesting. To be fair, Microsoft has not yet released final pricing information, so it may not be as bad as I’m thinking. Even so, the news that they are making WMC a paid add on and are limiting it to Windows 8 Pro only leaves a rather bad aftertaste. Mr. Broida encourages HTPC users to not upgrade, and to stick with Windows 7. I don’t think I’m at that point yet (though I get where he’s coming from), but I will say that Windows 8 was a tough sell before I heard this news, and the WMC news isn’t helping. I can only hope that Microsoft will reconsider and, dare I say it, do the right thing for their users here.

Source: Tested