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Microsoft will offer an upgrade to its upcoming Windows 8 Pro OS for just $40, the company announced in a blog post today.

“We set out to make it as easy as possible for everyone to upgrade to Windows 8,” Microsoft communications manager Brandon LeBlanc wrote. “Starting at general availability, if your PC is running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 you will qualify to download an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99 in 131 markets.”

That’s a radical price drop from past Windows upgrades, which almost always run for more than $100. Anyone running Windows XP, Vista, or 7 will be offered the Windows 8 upgrade at the $40 price if they download it from A physical upgrade copy of Windows 8 sold in stores will cost $70.

Microsoft says that this upgrade price will be a limited offer that ends Jan. 31, a point that could help drive early sales. I’ve argued previously that Windows 8 could have a Vista-like adoption problem, and perhaps Microsoft realizes this radical change will require a little push, starting with a shockingly good price. No doubt Microsoft is also considering that it will be able to generate revenue from its new Windows 8 Store to make up for lost cash in license sales.

The company has not yet given a date for Windows 8’s release, but we expect it will happen before the end of the third quarter this year. At that time, we’ll see if this aggressive pricing strategy ends up giving Windows 8 the push it needs to build excitement and momentum.

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