Microsoft officially launched its Windows 8 operating system Friday, but you will only find the software on brand new computer systems.
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The good news, however, is that you can now upgrade existing systems to Windows 8 Pro via digital download or through various retailers.
Understanding the Different Windows 8 Retail Options
In the past, Microsoft has offered Windows in lots of different flavors. For instance, Windows 7 was available in six different varieties -- something we found just a little bit insane. Fortunately, Microsoft has cut down its Windows 8 offerings quite a bit.
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For home users, the only version of Windows 8 you can buy in stores as either an upgrade or new software package is Windows 8 Pro. There is a more basic version of Windows 8 (dubbed simply, "Windows 8"), but it's only available pre-installed on select tablets and PCs. OEMs and system builders can purchase standalone versions of Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro from retailers such as Newegg and Amazon.com. Windows 8 Enterprise is available via Microsoft's Software Assurance program and to MSDN and TechNet Professional subscribers.
Windows 8 was designed to work natively with touch screens and to bridge the usability gap between traditional PC computers and tablets. In addition to Windows 8 for consumers, Windows 8 Pro for enthusiasts or businesses, there is also Windows 8 Enterprise for large organizations (think Pfizer).
Upgrade Quickly and Cheaply
Upgrading your existing PC is the easiest way to get your hands on Windows 8 Pro. The company is offering users of Windows 7, XP SP3 and Windows Vista a device upgrade for $39.99 until January 31, 2013. To make sure your system can handle it, check the requirements here.
Meanwhile, customers who buy a Windows 7 PC now -- or did so after June 2, 2012 -- can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for even less -- $14.99 via its Windows Upgrade Offer.
Although Windows 8 Pro is already downloadable by a click of a button online, it can also be purchased boxed software too. Windows 8 Pro is available via various retailers, such as Amazon ($68.88), Best Buy ($69.99) and Microsoft's store ($69.99). You can get a copy of the software on DVD or just get an activation code.
And of course, if you've been relying on an old PC for too long, manufacturers have already added Windows 8 to its systems. From the Acer Aspire S7-391 to the Dell XPS 13, there are a slew of options available with Windows 8. For a full list, click here.
Microsoft is also offering a free Media Pack add-on for Windows 8 Pro, which turns your machine into a Media Center PC, so you can watch and record live TV. Those who purchase Windows 8 Pro can request a coupon code for the upgrade, which is good until January 31, 2012.
How are you going to get Windows 8? Let us know in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.