With as much as we've been talking about Windows 8.1 these past few months, you'd almost swear that the OS has already launched - but not so. What might be even harder to believe is that we're still learning things about it, preparing ourselves ever better for its October 17th launch.
On the official Windows blog, Microsoft highlights a couple of changes that will hit the Windows platform beginning with 8.1. In the past, purchasing a Windows license through the digital Microsoft store with the intent of upgrading your machine would give you the upgrade version, not the full version. The problem here is that if you ever wished to reformat, you'd need to first install your original OS and then upgrade. That's beyond clunky, and a procedure I've always found to be ridiculous.
With 8.1, though, every single disc sold is going to be the "full version". This in effect means that Microsoft is selling just two versions of its latest OS: Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro. According to Microsoft, this change was made due to customer feedback, and honestly, this is a fantastic change for the company to acknowledge and pursue. Now, there's just no concern over exactly which disc you need - pick up Windows 8.1 and you're good to go (or Pro if you happen to need its features - unlikely for most).
Microsoft retains the pricing of Windows 8, with the non-Pro version carrying an SRP of $119.99, and the Pro, $199.99. For those who purchase a device bundled with Windows 8.1, an upgrade option to Pro called "Pro Pack" will be made available for $99.99. This upgrade also includes Windows Media Center; if you happen to already own 8.1 Pro and want that perk, it'll cost you an additional $9.99.
While nothing in the blog post mentions OEM versions of the OS which have become so popular with DIY builders, it seems likely that nothing will change there, since those were always full version discs to begin with.
So there we have it: Microsoft making a small but nice change that helps simplify things for consumers. I hate to quote memes, but... Good guy, Microsoft.