One thing Apple has done really well over the past few years is eliminating fragmentation in its operating systems. The install base of iOS 5 is over 75%; OS X Lion is around 50%. That’s in less than a year for both operating systems.
To put those numbers in perspective, consider this. Google’s latest operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich, still runs on just 1% of all Android devices after a year, and Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system hovers at around 50% after almost three years.
Apple’s secret is simple. They charge as little as possible for their operating systems, giving it away free if they can. It’s a good strategy that prevents Apple from having to endlessly support older OSes. And now, Microsoft’s finally going to take a page from Apple’s book.
Microsoft has just announced that if you have an existing Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 install, you’ll be able to download a digital copy of Windows 8 for a little less than $40.
Starting at general availability, if your PC is running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 you will qualify to download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99 in 131 markets. And if you want, you can add Windows Media Center for free through the “add features” option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade. […] You will be able to upgrade from any consumer edition of Windows 7 to Windows 8 Pro and bring everything along which includes your Windows settings, personal files, and apps. If you are upgrading from Windows Vista, you will be able to bring along your Windows settings and personal files, and if you are upgrading from Windows XP you will only be able to bring along your personal files. Of course, if you want to start fresh, you can choose to bring nothing along. Or if you prefer to format your hard drive as part of your upgrade experience, you can do so as long as you boot from media and then format your hard drive from within the setup experience for installing Windows 8, not prior to it. […] This upgrade promotion for Windows 8 Pro both online and at retail runs through January 31st, 2013.
The $39.99 price is for digital delivery only; if you want a physical copy, it’ll cost you $69.99. Even that’s a page out of Apple’s book, though: getting OS X Lion on a USB thumb drive will cost you about $69.
This is a good move on Microsoft’s part. It took Microsoft over a decade to get XP penetration below 50%, and they’re still supporting it. Making operating system upgrades cheap enough to be a no brainer for everyone but enterprise is a good way of making sure Windows 8 is a success.