Windows 8
Windows 8 advertisements show Microsoft's desire to change consumer's opinion on their products.

Microsoft has finally released its latest iteration of its Windows-branded software: Windows 8. The next-generation operating system represents the company’s first major step toward a unified, mobile-centric platform.

The PC software manufacturer also launched its Surface tablet on Thursday at midnight, with Microsoft retail locations around the country celebrating the release of its first self-branded tablet.

Windows 8 will be available in both hard copy and digital form, and users have the option of purchasing it either online or in stores. Below is a list of all options available for upgrading to Windows 8.

PRICE: In Store vs. Online

On Microsoft’s official website, users can download Windows 8 Pro for $39.99. An Upgrade Assistant will prompt users when installing the software to inform users if they’re PC is ready for the update. The assistant will also walk users through the necessary steps to purchase, download and install Windows 8. For those running on Windows 7, files, apps and settings will easily transfer to Windows 8 Pro; however, those using Windows XP or Vista will need to reinstall previous apps.

Windows 8 Professional will be on sale at Best Buy beginning Friday for $69.99. The electronics retailer will also be offering demos and advise from staff who have been trained on Windows 8 features, as well as exclusive Windows 8 PCs. Windows fans can also purchase the new software at Microsoft retailers for $69.99. For a list of Microsoft stores near you, see the official list here.

UPGRADES: Special Offers

Microsoft announced several months ago that certain users can score Windows 8 for $14.99. Any customer who purchased a Windows 7 PC between June 2, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013 can register for the offer at before Feb. 28, 2013. Microsoft will then send an email with a promotion code and purchase instructions.

This is certainly a reasonable price for Microsoft’s new OS, but users may be paying a larger expense in the long term. Those who participate in this offer will be getting Windows 8 at close to nothing, but are giving up the option to take advantage of the new hardware created for the operating system. In the final weeks leading up to the Windows 8 release, manufacturers such as Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Samsung have been showing off their touchscreen-enabled, convertible laptops. Microsoft spent a large chunk of Thursday’s keynote speech showcasing Windows 8 on these new PC-tablet hybrids, emphasizing the enhanced user experience these devices bring to the software.

For a list of some of the cheapest convertible tablets, see our guide here.