From Redmond Channel Partner news comes the announcement that the $14.99 Windows 8 upgrade offer became available on Monday.
From Redmond Blog Post:
The upgrade offer provides a discount to buyers of new Windows 7-based PCs who want to upgrade in the future to the Windows 8 Pro edition. The offer applies only to those moving to Windows 8 Pro on x86/x64 machines. Windows RT, the operating system that runs on ARM-based hardware, will only be sold preinstalled on machines; it isn't possible to download it or buy boxed copies.
The offer to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for $14.99 is good only for owners of Windows 7 PCs that were purchased between June 2, 2012 and Jan. 31, 2013, according to Microsoft's announcement. An announcement made last month seemed to suggest that the offer was available with Windows XP and Vista machines too, but that's not exactly correct. The main problem is that people can't buy new PCs running those operating systems, and the offer is only extended to new PC buyers. However, the upgrade offer is still available to those people who bought a new Windows 7 PC who then downgraded that OS to Windows XP or Vista. Such downgrades do not affect the upgrade offer, or even the process of upgrading to Windows 8, according to Microsoft's FAQ.
There are some limitations that you need to know about. If you bought retail outlet or boxed copies of Windows 7 that weren’t installed on PCs or if you purchased a refurbished PC with Windows 7 preinstalled you will not qualify because your system is not new. Also, the offer is just for consumers and not businesses. An individual can only take advantage of the offer on five upgrades. Windows 7 Starter Edition also doesn’t qualify.
Redmond goes on to discuss the process:
The offer is a multistep process. The new Windows 7 PC has to be purchased within the dates of the offer. Next, those wanting to upgrade to Windows 8 have to register, and that's now open via this page. Lastly, the upgrade itself is only available when Windows 8 is released as a final product on October 26, so those signing up can't upgrade right away. Finally, the offer has a time-out clause, even for those who signed up -- that is, the Windows 8 download has to take place before Feb. 28, 2013 or the deal is null.
The upgrade happens over an Internet connection by means of a "Windows upgrade assistant" service. It can take "30 to 90 minutes" to download Windows 8, which is a 2 GB file. Of course it's not possible to upgrade a 32-bit Windows 7 PC with a 64-bit edition of Windows 8. Microsoft will provide Windows 8 on installation media for an additional charge, or upgraders can burn their own installation disks on a DVD disk or a USB drive.
If you don’t qualify for the cheap upgrade, you will be able to upgrade after the Windows 8 release for 39.95. Your requirement is to have either XP, Vista or Windows 7 installed on you machine. You will also get the Media Player as part of the package as well. I’ll post more info on this as it comes available.