Retailers confused on Windows 8 licensing

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Retailers confused on Windows 8 licensing

Microsoft has confused retail resellers on the pricing and availability of its Windows 8 operating system, providing no specific details despite a major licensing change.

The company told attendees of its launch event in Sydney today that it would only sell upgrades of the software in retail stores - no boxed copies of the full OS would be available.

JB HiFi staff have also reported that Microsoft had only made upgrade versions available.

But representatives from Harvey Norman and Dick Smith told CRN they were “definitely” selling full boxed versions of the software in their stores -- the Windows 8 Pro box for $58.

CRN and sister site PC & Tech Authority installed a $58 boxed version of the aforementioned Windows 8 Pro, purchased from Dick Smith, on a brand-new, unformatted SSD that had never run Windows - and attempts to activate the software generated an error message stating that the product key could only be used for upgrading, not clean installations.



Systems builder required

Microsoft has neglected to mention the licensing changes it has introduced with Windows 8.

Microsoft previously offered OEM licenses for systems builders, as well as retail upgrade licenses and full retail licenses.

Systems builder licenses are traditionally significantly cheaper than the full retail license, and previously weren’t available directly to end-users. With Windows 7 and prior, the OS was bundled onto hardware and sold via a reseller to the customer.

Microsoft now has done away with the full retail licenses -- meaning full boxed versions will no longer be available in stores -- and added an element to its systems builders licence that allows for personal use.

The vendor refused to provide any official pricing or launch information on this version, but it is currently available on a number of online stores from upwards of $100. 

Ars Technica reported that the retail licenses now only covered simple upgrades. There appear to be no changes to its major OEM and Enterprise licenses, meaning no headaches for Microsoft resellers. 

CRN has contacted Microsoft multiple times for comment and is yet to receive a response.

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