Microsoft announced on Wednesday that Windows 8 will ship to customers via software upgrades or with new PC purchases on October 26, 2012. This report confirms my exclusive report from last week, when I revealed on the Windows Weekly podcast that the Windows 8 software would not ship in full product versions but only in upgrade packaging.
Note the way this event is described on Microsoft’s Blogging Windows blog. “Steven Sinofsky announced at Microsoft’s annual sales meeting that customers will be able to get Windows 8—whether in upgrade fashion or on a new PC—starting on October 26th,” the post reads.
On the July 12 episode of Windows Weekly, I revealed that there will be no retail full versions of Windows 8—only upgrade versions. (I mentioned this again in Short Takes a day later.) Since then, I’ve received the documentation supporting this claim: “For Windows 8, Microsoft will only offer an upgrade version of Windows 8 through the retail channel,” the document reads. “This is the license an end user would purchase who wants to upgrade their current PC from a prior version of Windows to Windows 8.”
Previously, Microsoft offered both full and upgrade versions of Windows at retail, with the full version aimed at those who want to install Windows over a non-qualifying previous version of Windows or on a newly built or purchased PC that came with no OS. For Windows 8, all currently supported versions of Windows qualify for the upgrade. So for all intents and purposes, all customers qualify for an upgrade version of Windows 8.
Before then, of course, Microsoft needs to complete Windows 8. The company said previously that it would do so—a process called release to manufacturing (RTM)—by the first week of August.