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27 responses to “Deal: Windows 8 Pro Non-Upgrade Retail Boxed $39.99 + Free Media Center for All Pros”

  1. Marc


    I saw an post where the user bought the Windows 8 Pro Retail box and a new SSD. The install went fine, but when he went to activate it, the activation failed. When he called Microsoft, they told him he bought the wrong version and that he needed to buy the System Builder version, which is $139 instead of the $39 price at Staples today.

    Can you confirm successfully activating this Windows 8 Pro Retail version on an originally bare drive? (Note: Sure you can wipe the drive using the installer, but I am guessing the installer marks down whether you had a licensed version installed on the hard drive previously.)


  2. Christopher Price

    We’re testing right now. Will update this evening.

    Even if that were correct, I suspect a double install-in-place (a la Win7) would resolve that. Microsoft can’t claim this time around that the Windows 8 Pro retail copies aren’t upgrades… they would have to note that somewhere on the product packaging to legitimately make that claim.

  3. Psywiped

    I can confirm right now that you can do a clean install without any of the issues win 7 gave.

  4. Marc

    Thank you Christopher,

    I believe the retail boxes of Windows 8 Pro do indicate that you must be using Windows 7 or Windows Vista, although subtly.

    Also, people may not have an extra licencensed version of Windows 7, Vista, or XP to install first. This is particularly true if you just built a PC from scratch. Furthermore, if you have an SSD in that computer, everything will run only optimally if you install the operating system to a secure erased or factory initialized SSD. If you install Windows 8 on an SSD that already had an OS on it, even if you delete all the partitions in the Windows 8 Installation Wizard, all the NAND flash in the drive is not initialized and writing new data to those unerased memory blocks will be slower than if you started with a factory initialized or secure erased drive. This is unlike a mechanical hard drive where memory blocks can simply be overwritten with the new data. In an SSD the memory blocks have to be erased first, and this is a relatively slow process. This also causes a slight bit of unecessary wear on the NAND flash as well, as the SSD memory cells have a limited number of times they can be erased.

    Anyway, please let me know what your results are, it would be much appreciated. If you are unable to properly activiate, it was a bit sly of Microsoft to remove the word “Upgrade” from this retail version and just mention is subtly in the literature.


  5. Marc


    Was there a installation of a prior version of Windows on the drive before you used the Windows 8 Pro Install wizard to erase and/or format the drive before installing Windows 8 Pro to the singularly remaining “unallocated space” entry?


  6. Cash

    I bought my $40 Win8 pro from Staples tonight and was able to directly install it to a brand new SAMSUNG 830 but the installation would not activate no matter what I tried. I wound up installing win7/32 real quick and then win8/64 right over the top as a custom install, not an upgrade and successfully activated. I too was under the impression that this was a full copy and not an upgrade and from what I’ve gleaned so far the disk is the full blown version, its your key that restricted in what will activate.

  7. Marc


    This is much appreciated, thank you.

    -It is dissappointing that Microsoft makes no mention on the Retail Box that a prior installation of Windows was necessary.

    -I agree the SSD wear and loss in performance is extremely marginal.

    -It is odd that Microsoft would allow you to activate Windows 8 Pro when installed on a disk that had a previously non-activated installation of Windows, including Windows 8 itself.

    -This is just a guess, but as for the successful bare drive installations, perhaps some Microsoft Server (Windows Activation Server or Windows Update Server) recognizes the machine (via NIC MAC address) as having had a previous version of Windows installed on it and allows the Windows 8 Pro Retail Box activation.


  8. Chris

    I’m ordering a new desktop with a SSD and HDD, so I guess I just install my old Vista copy onto the HDD and then when I run the Windows 8 upgrade, I can install that on the SSD, and at the same time format the HDD to remove Vista.

  9. Marc


    Excellent suggestion. I guess having an external drive with a Windows installation plugged in would solve the issue. Can you confirm the initial installation does not need to be activated?


  10. Christopher Price


    The double-install method is unchanged from Windows Vista and Windows 7. When Windows Installer runs, it makes a note during the arming process if a previous version of Windows was present (activated or not). This is all the verification that Vista/7/8 have needed, even if you are “upgrading” from the same install media that you just ran.

    Most theorize that Microsoft did this to provide a balance between piracy and Linux. A person that has spent money purchasing upgrade media in the best case is doing a double-install to circumvent that they lost their media, or that their PC didn’t come with recovery media.

    In the worst case, the user is a content Windows user, instead of defecting to pirating Windows, or worse, buying a Mac or installing a free OS like Linux. Microsoft has made billions by being the worlds most-pirated operating system, they probably would rather have that title that lose a quarter of their market share.

  11. Marc


    Much appreciated. I wasn’t aware that the same “upgrade” version logistics applied to prior versions of windows.

    Also, I agree with your explanation of Microsoft’s rationale.


  12. Marc

    I had read that somewhere. Please let me know if you can confirm that they will still accpet this particular coupon. This coupon may be different from the others in certain regards.

  13. Marc


    Just a thought. Can you install Windows 8 to a USB device such as a flash drive or external hard drive, and then plug that into a computer, and have it be the detected prior OS installation? Furthermore, you could avoid wiping it so that you can use it again if you ever needed to reinstall windows on your fresh and clean secure erased SSD, correct?


  14. Philip

    I look forward to a resolution on this… if this coupon is for an upgrade rather than for a full version, it becomes much less appealing.

  15. Marc


    I believe the $40 “Upgrade Version” and the $140 System Builder “Full Version” produce exactly the same result if each product’s initial requirements were met. The “Upgrade Version” has the requirement of detecting a previously installed version of Windows, and if it not, prevents you from activating it’s installation. The System Builder “Full Version” does not have this additional requirement.

    If you have a prior Version of Windows installed on any hard drive attached to your computer, there is no issue using the “Upgrade Version.” If you don’t, you can simply use the the Upgrade version to first install a non activated version, and then boot of the smae $40 “Upgrade” DVD again to install a activatable Windows 8 Pro Operating system, because the second time around, the installer detects the initial (but unactivated) copy of Windows 8 Pro you just installed. Note: Don’t enter the upgrade product key when doing the first install if you had a computer with no detectable copy of windows.


  16. Eric

    I am now thoroughly confused. I am a Mac owner that has never owned a copy of Windows on this computer nor do I have any install discs from old Windows computers. I recently installed Parallels and have been trying to install the free preview version of Windows 8 but it keeps failing. Now I am willing to just buy Windows 8 but I would obviously prefer the $69.99 version. I have a Staples two blocks away and can buy the Windows 8 Upgrade version for either $69.99 or with the coupon if they still except it. I just dont want to open the box and try to install it only to have it fail and they I cant return an open box. My only option then would be to find and buy Windows 7 System Builder and install that first, then try to use the Windows 8 upgrade. If I cant use the coupon, I would be paying $69.99 for 8 and at least $91 for Windows 7 System Builder from Amazon. I would also have to wait a couple days for shipping as I have been unable to find a download version of System Builder for Windows 7 or 8. The total cost would be $161 vs. if I just buy the Windows 8 Pro System Builder for $139.99 from Amazon. But then I would also have to wait for it to be shipped. I thinks its ridiculous that Microsoft is not selling the System Builder versions of Windows 8 as a download from their website. Its also impossible to find in retail stores. The only option that I have found is online retailers.

    Any suggestions?

  17. Marc


    I will defer to Chris on this one.

    My initial thought is that you only need the $40 Staples Upgrade Version. You just need to install it twice. But I have no experience with Parallels on a Mac and activation on a Mac, or with a Mac at all.

    Clearly your safest bet is to buy the System Builder Version on for $140 and wait though. It is the least likely to cause you problems.

    I don’t believe under any circumstances that you need to buy any prior versions of Windows. That would just be a waste of money since the Wndows 8 Pro Retail box should also be capable of being used to create a” prior installation” that can then be detected in a subsequent installation using the same DVD.

    Good Luck, and please let us know of your results.


  18. Tom S

    Guys, gotta read between the lines. It’s all here already.

    Microsoft wants to charge PC makers more than $40 for Windows. They can’t if you can buy it in stores.

    So MS made the disc an upgrade… prolly after the boxes were produced. Just do the double install trick if you don’t already own Windows.

    Staples expired coupons are YMMV, duh.

  19. Marc

    I understand your point Tom.

    By the way, I have a correction: You may need to type in the product key on the initial installation of Windows 8 Pro Retail. But this won’t change anything


  20. Eric

    Heading to Staples now to give the Windows 8 Update a try. I need to have the actual disk. Tried downloading from Microsoft but they make you download a Install Assistant which is an .exe file not an .iso file. Parallels for Mac cant use the exe unless there is already a Windows version installed.

  21. MaJ

    Activate Windows 8 Pro Upgrade

    Windows 8 users who noticed that the operating system can’t be activated after the installation may want to try the following workaround that worked to activate when installing Windows 7 using an upgrade on a clean PC.

    Open regedit by pressing Windows-q, entering regedit and selecting the result from the list of hits.
    Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Setup/OOBE/
    Change MediaBootInstall from 1 to 0
    Go back to the start screen and enter cmd there.
    Right-click Command Prompt and select to run it as administrator.
    Type slmgr /rearm on the command line and hit enter.
    Reboot Windows now.
    Run the activation utility afterwards, enter your product key to activate Windows.

  22. Marc

    Thank you very much. That may be the best solution yet if it works for Windows 8 Pro Retail. If anyone has success with this, let us know please.

  23. Eric

    I was one of those wanting to buy and install the cheaper upgrade version of Windows 8 Pro. After many difficulties, I just ended up ordering the full (non-upgrade) version of Windows 8 Pro System Builder Disc from Amazon for $99 minus $10 instant rebate and free shipping. I then upgraded my Parallels7 to Parallels 8 for $49.99. Everything works fine other than the fact that Windows 8 really takes some getting used to on a laptop. It really seems like the user interface was built for a tablet and I’m just not sure how great it is for a laptop