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Windows 8 might not be sold in stores at all

Windows 7 on shelves (zimbio)

If you’ve ever taken a trip to Best Buy, or some other electronics retailer that went out of business trying to compete with the Internet, you’ve likely walked through isles upon isles of Windows software as you were hunting for something else, like a video game or laptop. Well, no more, my friend. The days of buying Windows in a box may have ended.

In the latest Windows Weekly, co-hosts and Microsoft insiders Mary Jo Foley (ZDNet) and Paul Thurrott (WinSuperSite) speculate that Microsoft may drop boxed software all together, and instead only sell Windows on new computers or as an upgrade over the Internet. This would be the first edition of Windows where the standard edition isn’t available for purchase at retail. One important note: Those building their own PC (yep, a few people still do that) might be able to purchase a “System Builder” physical edition, which has been confirmed by Microsoft, according to The Verge. The downloadable upgrade version of Windows 8 will cost $40 when the OS is released this October.

If true, Microsoft will be following in Apple’s footsteps. In recent years, Apple has aggressively pushed users to update Mac OS X software over the Internet, offering updates for as little as $20. Finding a boxed copy of the operating system is now quite difficult in our experience. The strategy has been a success so far. Though it is selling updates at a fraction of the $100+ previous price of operating systems, the vast majority of Mac users now update their system instead of waiting to get an upgrade with their next computer — a habit that PC users have always had due to the difficulty and unreliability of Windows upgrades.

(Image courtesy of Zimbio)