Let me start by saying being disconnected from the day to day activity of social media, the Internet and blogs is a necessary thing every once in a while.  We must recharge our own batteries as much as we are constantly having to charge the batteries of our electronic devices.

However, I will also add that it is tough to see news in our tech industry happening and not be active in the discussion in those same channels!

So in the two weeks that I have been enjoying some downtime and have been away from my normal daily routine of being connected, sharing links and blogging to the world I want to comment on some of the news that has hit the tech world in this timeframe.

  • Windows 8 Release to Manufacturing (RTM) and General Availability (GA). This announcement was made earlier this week by the Windows Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer Tami Reller during the keynote at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference.  She revealed that Windows 8 was on track for RTM in early August of this year with GA, that is when you will find it on store shelves and on new PC’s, in October.  This timeline would also indicate that the new Microsoft Surface RT tablets should be available in October with the x86 based Microsoft Surface tablets hitting the market at the beginning of the new year or maybe even by Christmas for the holidays.
  • Windows 7 Hits 630 Million Licenses Worldwide. During that same keynote, Tami Reller also announced that Windows 7 had hit a new milestone with 630 million licenses of the OS sold.  She also revealed that over 50% of Enterprise desktops, Microsoft true bread and butter, are running Windows 7 now.  I am pretty sure a significant portion of that other 50% are running earlier versions of Windows as well.  The Enterprise is a market that Microsoft dominates as we all know.
  • Upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $40. After hearing about the special deal for anyone who purchases a Windows 7 based PC from now until January 2013 that will cost just $15, which is intended to encourage folks to not put off a hardware purchases waiting for Windows 8,  we now get news from Brandon LeBlanc on the Blogging Windows blog of special upgrade pricing to Windows 8 Pro for less than $40. This option will be download only through the Upgrade Assistant in Windows 8 and will be available in 131 markets at GA which is expected in October 2012.  This upgrade pricing applies to Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. As a bonus, anyone upgrading through this deal will be able to get the Windows Media Center add-in at no cost which is nice considering this will be a paid upgrade down the road.  I think this upgrade pricing has an impact in three areas. One it will hopefully move many people up from Windows XP that will see the end of security updates for the aging OS in less than two years.  This is critical because Microsoft has already stated there will be no further reprieves or extensions to Windows XP support. It is definitely time to move on from that OS folks.  Secondly this upgrade pricing will draw a lot of Vista and Windows 7 users because it is such a good deal as normal upgrade pricing is close to $100 retail. Lastly there are upgrade paths from the Windows 8 Release Preview which has never been offered or supported on past OS beta’s and previews.  I suspect this special pricing will quickly get Windows 8 out there into the general public and enthusiast communities.  Of course with Windows 8 being available on new PC’s very soon that will also seed the OS rather quickly. It may not happen as fast but I suspect Windows 8 will beat Windows 7’s sales eventually.
  • Windows Home Server 2011 Product Line Ending. The folks wrote about this last week basing their belief that WHS 2011 is dead because Microsoft announced that there will only be one SKU for Small Business Server which is the product division WHS 2011 belonged to.  The post did indicate that many of the features we like in WHS 2011 such as media streaming, client backup and remote access will be available in the new Windows Server 2012 Essentials. One plus is that the number of allowed users will be increased from 10 to 25 on the new server OS.  The big difference between WHS 2011 and Windows Server 2012 Essentials is the price which is $100 and $380 respectively.  Although this new version is being targeted towards small businesses and home users I agree with the guys at MSWHS that this pricing will be a significant barrier to home users.  I have done several WHS installs for people and the price of the OS was a major selling point but nearly $400 will have folks opting for less reliable methods of client backups and that will focus mainly on the data side of things.  The ability to restore an entire OS, even onto a new disk in the case of a hardware failure, is what I like about WHS 2011.  Luckily, we should see updates to the OS until for about ten years following the release of WHS’s replacement.

What do you think of this collection of stories? Do any of them have an impact on you or will you upgrade to Windows 8 with this type of upgrade pricing being available?  Please let us know in the comments below.

I am looking forward to reading your responses.