Microsoft is turning the entire Windows UI on its head with Windows 8, but it sounds like they aren’t done rocking the boat just yet. According to respected Windows journalists Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft is making plans to axe the full retail editions of Windows 8. This could mean the next time you go cruising the boxed software isle at your local Best Buy, the only thing you’ll be able to buy are upgrade editions.
In many ways the move makes sense for Microsoft, and represents an important admission for the company. Considering that anyone with a copy of Windows XP or later is eligible to upgrade, why bother offering an overpriced full version at all? System builders will still be able to pick up Windows 8 on the cheap with OEM editions from your favorite e-tailer, and for everyone else, there is an upgrade.
Several news outlets have criticized the move, but we can’t help but wonder why. The only noticeable difference between OEM and Retail editions was the flexibility to migrate the OS to new hardware with no activation issues. My retail copy of Windows XP for example must have graced at least 6 different systems over the 10 years I used it. OEM editions expressly prohibit this type of migration in the terms and conditions; however Microsoft has been known to have mercy on people replacing motherboards if you call in.