If you’re running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP1 or even Windows 7 in any updated form, you’re able to upgrade to Windows 8 with the minimum of fuss and drama as Microsoft has recently revealed the (rather sensible) upgrade plans for its new OS. The company is also offering a $15 upgrade to users in the US and Europe to buy a new Windows 7 desktop or laptop that started last month until January the 31st, 2013.

Hit the jump for more info. 

According to a list obtained by ZDNet, users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 (entry-level) from Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium while maintaining their existing Windows settings, personal files and applications. They will also be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro, with Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate users now also included while maintaining their existing Windows settings, personal files and applications.

As for Windows 8 Enterprise (I have no idea how that’s going to work, seriously), network admins need to know that the upgrades will be available to volume licensees with Software Assurance contracts only.  So if you’re on the regular volume license contract you’d be better off sticking to Windows 7 as the software assurance license agreement is considerably more expensive. It would probably be cheaper at that point to only upgrade those who want the new OS with single-user licenses for Windows 8 Pro.

If you’re on Windows Vista SP1, your data and settings will also cross over, but without SP1 its limited to your data only. Windows XP SP3 users will only be able to keep their personal files and you’ll have to set up everything from scratch. With the Release Preview set to reach manufacturers as the final Release Candidate at the end of July, it looks like everything’s on track for an October release worldwide. I’m not so sure how long Windows 7 licenses will be sold for, but I’d guess that it’ll be less than a year into the life of Windows 8 that sales for the legacy system (how weird is that?) finally closes for good.

Source: ZDNet 

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Further reading: Windows 8 Analysis: Part One, the Desktop