(Source: YouTube)
Desktop builders -- a small, but affluent crowd -- appear to be getting no pricing break; still OEM licenses likely will cost less

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) announced in a blog post that it would be releasing the PC edition of Windows 10 on July 29, targeting tablets, hybrid laptops, ultrathins, traditional laptops, and desktops.  The latter group -- desktops -- have long remained a topic of mystery when it comes to the pricing of new licenses for system builders.  But Microsoft has elucidate in its path on that front as well.

You may recall that Windows 10 is being offered as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 with a valid license.  It will also dominate the majority of new systems sold during the back to school shopping season, which runs from August to September.

However, there are cases when you may not have a license -- or an upgrade capable one.  One group that won't be receving free upgrades are the contingent of holdouts still on Windows XP.  Enthusiasts building new desktops will also find themselves in need of purchasing a license, unless they have an idle license for Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 on one of their old machines.

Windows 10
[Image Source: The Verge]

For those who want a new license, unfortunately Microsoft is cutting much of a break on the price.  Comments the company in a message to Neowin and a couple of other sites:

The easiest way to get Windows 10 is to upgrade for free. You may also purchase a copy of Windows 10 if you decide not to upgrade, or if you need to purchase a copy for other reasons like installing on a PC you built yourself. The suggested retail prices for Windows 10 in the U.S. are the same as Windows 8.1.

Windows 10 Home is an estimated retail price of $119. Windows 10 Pro is an estimated retail price of $199. And Windows 10 Pro Pack, which enables you to upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro, is an estimated retail price of $99. All these are available in stores or online.

In a way this pricing isn't surprising.  Windows 8 had no free upgrade option.  Licenses were initially priced at $14.99-39.99 for Windows 8 Pro under special promotional upgrade offers which required a Windows XP, Vista, or 7 license.  After a 3 month promotional discounted upgrade period, the price of Pro jumped to $199 -- the same price Windows 10 Pro individual licenses are being sold for.  Standard Windows 8 (Core) licenses were priced identically, as well at $119.99 USD.

Windows 10

Last time around we also saw Windows 8 licenses offered to OEMs at $99.99 for Windows 8 (Core) and $139.99 for Windows 8 Pro.  As such licenses were often resold in bulk on sites like Newegg and, Inc. (AMZN), it was rare to see customers paying full price.

Likewise, while the above comment sounds sort of high, it's important to bear in mind:
  • Unlike Windows 8's "discounted" upgrades, Windows 10 upgrades are fully free for most users.
  • Windows 8's upgrade promotion period only lasted 3 months; Microsoft is offering customers a full year to make up their mind about whether to pursue the free upgrade option (after July 28, 2015, they'll have to pay).
  • OEM bulk license pricing will likely shave $20-50 off the above stated prices.
Indeed, to the latter point ZDNet revealed last week screenshots showing leaked pricing from an online retailer who jumped the gun on teasing at OEM bulk licensing.  As seen below the OEM license are available at $109.99 and $149.99 USD for Windows 10 Home and Pro, respectively.

Windows 10 OEM pricing
[Image Source:  ZDNet]

It's unclear whether this retailer is just marking up the OEM licenses, or if Microsoft indeed bumped the prices $10 USD for each version.  Only time will tell.

Likewise there's a fair chance Microsoft will offer a discounted upgraded option to available to customers who wait too long or who have Windows XP.  Again, we'll just have to wait and see.

For most users in the U.S., though (where Windows XP accounts for less than 10 percent of consumer OS installs), this is nothing more than white noise, though.  The vast majority of Windows users will likely have a compatible license and will likely take advantage of the free upgrade offer before it expires.  And that could make for a record pace and quantity of upgrades for Microsoft.

Sources: Neowin, ZDNet

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