Microsoft may drop full retail Windows 8 boxes — and that’s a good thing

Photo of a Windows 8 tablet with a keyboard

Come the release of Windows 8 this fall, it may be easier for consumers to figure out which boxed copy to purchase.

Microsoft will reportedly drop the full retail copy of Windows 8 and will only offer upgrade and “System Builder” versions of the OS in stores, report Windows gurus Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley on the This Week in Windows podcast.

Previously, Microsoft offered full, upgrade, and OEM copies of Windows to retailers. The full version was meant for consumers without any version of Windows (or with a very old version of the OS), the upgrade was for existing Windows users, and the slightly cheaper OEM version was meant to be sold to system builders (and technically could only be sold together with hardware). Many stores, especially online outfits, also sold the OEM version of Windows on their own.

By dropping the full retail version of Windows 8, Microsoft would greatly simplify the upgrade process for consumers. While Microsoft is heavily pushing downloaded upgrades for Windows 8 by pricing it at a mere $39.99, more mainstream users will still be picking up their Windows 8 upgrade in stores (where it’ll cost them $70), so it’s worth simplifying what boxes actually end up on store shelves.

If true, the decision would be a good one for Microsoft, which is clearly cutting back on its bad habits with Windows 8. Unlike past versions of Windows, which could make your head spin with their small differences, this time around Microsoft will only be offering two distinct flavors of Windows 8 (three if you count Windows RT for tablets).

When asked for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson said the company had nothing official to share on this report.

According to Thurott and Foley, the System Builder version of Windows 8 will take the place of the OEM version, and it’s what home PC builders will have to use to install the OS. Microsoft has previously said that Mac users will have to use the System Builder version to install Windows 8 using Boot Camp.

Via The Verge; Photo: Dylan Tweney/VentureBeat