Windows 8.1 Disc Release May Cause Confusion

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is planning to release boxed copies of Windows 8.1, thereby saving new buyers from having to download the first big update to the Windows 8 operating system (OS). However, the boxed version's pricing and installation process may make it both confusing and unattractive for many consumers.

The boxed edition of Windows 8.1 is being aimed at people who don't already own Windows 8 or any previous version of Windows. If you do have Windows 8 installed, you'll be able to download the update free of charge from the online Windows Store on October 18, 2013.

The boxed version is seen as a quiet acknowledgement that this first batch of updates represents a significant change to Windows 8, rather than just a few tweaks.

Windows 8.1 is about giving users the chance to undo some controversial changes to the Windows user interface (UI); for example, it makes it easier to set Windows to always start up in the traditional and familiar 'desktop' mode rather than the 'modern' UI known popularly known as 'Metro'.

Boxed Software Aimed at PC Builders

If you're currently using a previous version of Windows, such as Windows 7, the boxed version of Windows 8.1 isn't for you. The discs are for people installing Windows for the first time, not people looking to upgrade from a previous version of the OS.

That means the package won't be cheap: Microsoft has set pricing at $120 for the standard Windows 8.1 and $200 for Windows 8.1 Pro. (Source:

That said, Microsoft has acknowledged it will be possible to install the boxed edition of Windows 8.1 on machines already running a previous version of Windows.

However, users doing this will need to backup and reinstall applications and software. The better and cheaper option will be to buy a Windows 8 upgrade disc, install it, then download and install Windows 8.1 for free. (Source:

Realistically, then, the Windows 8.1 boxed editions are only worthwhile for people building their own computers or switching from an alternative operating system, such as Linux.

It should be interesting to see how clear Microsoft makes this fact and whether there are complaints from confused customers.

Windows 8.1 Pro Pack Hardly A Bargain

Microsoft has also said that anyone who buys the standard, boxed edition of Windows 8.1 will have the option to buy a new package later on called Windows 8.1 Pro Pack. That'll be priced at $100 and will upgrade Windows 8.1 to Windows 8.1 Pro.

It will also add the Windows Media Center feature that normally costs $10.

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