Archive for May, 2012

Demise of Cius offers lessons for Windows 8

With Cisco more or less pulling the plug on its business tablet Cius, Microsoft tablets based on Windows 8 have an opportunity and a challenge.

The opportunity: give businesses an alternative to the popular iPad that employees bring in as part of sanctioned BYOD programs. This is a strong plus for Windows 8, which can support all the apps that Windows 7 can plus whatever new Windows 8 Metro style apps are developed. iPads can’t do either.
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BACKGROUND: Cisco all but kills Cius tablet computer

Even the more limited Windows 8 edition for ARM-based devices – Windows RT – has features attractive to businesses that iPads can’t duplicate, notably integration of four Microsoft Office applications.

The bottom line here is that from an IT management perspective and from a business functionality perspective, Windows 8 mobile devices are more attractive than iPads.

The challenge: for Windows 8 to succeed in a BYOD environment, employees first have to bring Windows 8 devices to the workplace. That means they have to choose them over iPads, a decision that likely doesn’t consider how well suited they are to work.

As consumers upgrade their personal mobile devices, they may in fact chose Windows 8 tablets based on their past use of Windows laptops and the new touch-centric features of the new operating system. Much depends on price, on how well cooked Windows 8 is at its release and on how well it performs on the hardware that it’s bundled with. If Microsoft and its hardware partners come through, there may be a surge in the number of Windows devices that are BYODs of choice.

That’s a big if, and Microsoft shouldn’t bet much on it coming to pass. The demise of Cius, however, offers lessons that indicate that eventually, Windows 8 mobile devices could do well in the enterprise.

First, businesses aren’t interested in buying business-tailored tablets when they can get employees to buy their own consumer-oriented mobile devices that support enough work-related tasks. But they might buy mobile PCs that support the corporate desktop, which is dominated by Windows. Windows 8 on tablets could become a preferred form of corporate desktop replacement.

Second, Windows 8 and Windows RT combined can be deployed on devices that range from low-cost tablets such as Kindle Fires and Nooks to ultrabooks and convertibles that can perform as tablets or full laptops. That gives the software the chance to fill a variety of corporate needs that could be met either buy businesses purchasing the devices or embracing them as part of BYOD programs. Either way, it’s good for Windows 8.

The downfall for Cius was inflexibility. It performed certain specific functions but not more general ones, and at the same time was being challenged by devices that couldn’t perform the work-specific functions, but did the more general ones well. The general and flexible won out.

Windows 8 in all its flavors does offer that flexibility and as such represents a wide net. Some of its success in business will depend on whether consumers embrace it.

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Microsoft Continues Rebranding, This Time It’s Azure

Microsoft must be in a mood to rename things this month. First, the company re-branded its small and medium business advertising site and eliminated Windows Live branding. Now it’s moved on to Azure. Will any of these changes have a positive impact on revenue or just result in confused customers?
Rebranding Azure for Billing Reports
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Microsoft has sent a message to Windows Azure users that it is rebranding its cloud services. “Azure” will no longer appear on the billing site and many of the cloud offerings will get slightly modified names. For example, SQL Azure is becoming SQL Database and Azure Compute will now be Cloud Services. Although the change is imminent, it’s unclear if the rebranding will be isolated to billing and usage records or if will apply to the brand as a whole.

Microsoft hasn’t released an official statement explaining its rebranding actions. However, the move may be designed to blur the distinction between on premises and cloud-based solutions. The company has long been committed to having both a premises and cloud versions of its products. In 2009, Microsoft combined the Windows Server and Azure teams.

Microsoft doesn’t want customers to worry about moving between locally deployed and cloud-based solutions. The company wants to create an ecosystem where customers can mix deployment options and easily move between environments.

In addition to the name changes, Microsoft also updated the Azure privacy policy. The policy doesn’t include any additional restrictions or protections. According to the company, the change only added more details for clarification.
What This Means

The cloud market is continuing to mature and has grown more competitive. Microsoft seems to be positioning itself as a one-stop-shop for business computing. The company has offerings at every level of the cloud stack from infrastructure-as-a-service to software-as-a-service.
However, the company isn’t stopping with the cloud; Microsoft is also supporting every deployment strategy from traditional on premises installs to the public cloud. The approach will likely be attractive to organizations that don’t want to invest time and resources into integrating best of breed solutions from multiple vendors.

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Microsoft’s upgrade avalanche a challenge for IT pros

Corporate technology managers must take time when deciding on Windows, Office upgrade path

IDG News Service – Microsoft is in the midst of an unprecedented, massive upgrade cycle for its enterprise software products, a refresh wave that represents a major challenge for CIOs and IT managers responsible for charting their companies’ technology strategy.

Not only is Microsoft working on a major revamp of its flagship Windows operating system, but significant upgrades are coming to its Office products, the Explorer browser and a range of back-end enterprise products.

“There’s definitely something unique going on here,” said Ted Schadler, a Forrester Research analyst.

The current status and expected delivery dates of the various upgrades vary — and in some cases, Microsoft hasn’t yet provided specifics — but the overall effort started last year and may carry over into 2013.
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Unsurprisingly, the company is trumpeting the initiative with an intense marketing assault, and CIOs and IT directors must be ready to analyze the individual upgrades to decide which ones make sense for their companies.

“Microsoft is the strategic supplier. It’s far and away the No. 1 most-used workforce technology. That makes it a critical supplier to the enterprise and every CIO needs to be extremely in touch with what Microsoft is doing,” Schadler said.
Coming soon from Microsoft

Chief among the upgrades are new versions of Windows OSes for PCs, tablets, servers and possibly even phones. Microsoft says that Windows 8, now in beta testing, is a major revamp of the Windows 7 OS for PCs. It includes a new touch-optimized user interface called Metro designed for tablet devices, which have become popular among enterprise users.

A new version of Internet Explorer (IE10), is also in progress, designed to take advantage of the new features and capabilities in Windows 8, particularly the Metro UI.

Microsoft is also revamping its Office family. The “Office 15″ upgrade initiative, now in its early stages, will include new versions of productivity apps like Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and communications and collaboration products like Exchange/Outlook, Lync and SharePoint — both on premise and as part of the cloud-hosted Office 365 suite.

Back-end server and tools products are also getting makeovers. These include the company’s enterprise database, the new version of which is called SQL Server 2012; the IT management tool System Center; the application development platform Visual Studio; and the Dynamics enterprise software applications.

Microsoft, naturally, is doing its best to generate excitement around the new and improved features in these upgrades, making a case for their adoption through sometimes lengthy and frequent blog posts, advertising, appearances by officials at conferences and the like.

However, CIOs and analysts caution against getting seduced by the Microsoft marketing siren call.
ROI important

“CIOs need to focus on total cost of ownership and return on investment. Once you know what you’re currently paying with the TCO analysis, then you can do an ROI assessment,” said industry analyst Michael Osterman from Osterman Research.

IT professionals should focus on what their internal organization’s road map looks like, said IDC analyst Al Gillen.

“They should identify what technologies they want to put in place and understand where the gaps are, what’s available in the market and what Microsoft’s portfolio has today and in forthcoming products,” Gillen said. “They need to determine what pieces fit where and what potential adoption curves will be for their organization.”

As Microsoft beats the drum to attract attention to its slate of enterprise software upgrades, Cam Crosbie, vice president of IT and CIO of Equitable Life of Canada, isn’t paying too much attention to it. “It’s on my radar but just at the periphery right now. It’s not something I’m trying to get my head around in terms of strategy,” he said.

Equitable Life of Canada is in the midst of a full desktop refresh cycle, standardizing its 550 users on Windows 7 and Office 2010, and the plan is to stay on that upgrade for the next several years.

“Ours is a ‘take your time approach’ to make sure there’s value in a potential solution before making the jump,” Crosbie said. “A lot of the marketing hype sounds quite good, but we want to make sure that whatever we’re looking at has a lot of compelling business value before making the leap.”

This is the right approach, especially regarding Windows 8, which is in beta testing and will most likely ship toward the end of the year, said Michael Silver, a Gartner analyst.
The next Windows

Companies need to upgrade from Windows XP, which Microsoft will stop supporting in April 2014, and delaying such a move to wait for Windows 8 would be a mistake, Silver said.

“It’s really important that organizations continue to get XP out,” he said. “For most people, Windows 8 will be too late and Windows 7 is the one to focus on right now.”

Gartner estimates that in developed countries, Windows 7, which began shipping in October 2009, has been fully implemented in about 10% of enterprises, while 55% are in the process of deploying it and 25% are just starting.

In addition to the new Metro UI, Microsoft officials have been promoting Windows 8 enterprise features like Windows To Go, which lets users boot and run Windows 8 from USB devices like flash drives; simpler ways for end users to manage their connections to Wi-Fi and mobile broadband networks; and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) improvements. Windows 8 also features security enhancements, such as a new secure boot process.

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Windows Vista infection rates climb, says Microsoft

End of support last year for SP1 responsible for spike in successful attacks

Computerworld – Microsoft said last week that a skew toward more exploits on Windows Vista can be attributed to the demise of support for the operating system’s first service pack.

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Data from the company’s newest security intelligence report showed that in the second half of 2011, Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) was 17% more likely to be infected by malware than Windows XP SP3, the final upgrade to the nearly-11-year-old operating system.

That’s counter to the usual trend, which holds that newer editions of Windows are more secure, and thus exploited at a lower rate, than older versions like XP. Some editions of Windows 7, for example, boast an infection rate half that of XP.

Tim Rains, the director of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group, attributed the rise of successful attacks on Vista SP1 to the edition’s retirement from security support.

“This means that Windows Vista SP1-based systems no longer automatically receive security updates and helps explain why there [was] a sudden and sharp increase in the malware infection rate on that specific platform,” said Rains in a blog post last week.

Microsoft stopped delivering patches for Vista SP1 in July 2011. For the bulk of the reporting period, then, Vista SP1 users did not receive fixes to flaws, including some that were later exploited by criminals.

Vista SP2 will continue to be patched until mid-April 2017.

Rains also noted that the infection rates of both Windows XP SP3 and Vista dropped dramatically last year after Microsoft automatically pushed a “backport” update which disabled AutoRun, a Windows feature that major worms, including Conficker and Stuxnet, abused to infect millions of machines.

Rains seemed to intimate that the AutoRun disabling had more impact on XP than on Vista, and by Microsoft’s data, he may have been on to something: While XP’s infection rate continued to drop throughout the year, Vista SP2’s climbed from the second quarter to the third, and again from the third to the fourth.

Windows 7’s infection rate also increased each quarter of 2011.

Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security, had a different theory for XP’s infection rate decline and the rise of Vista’s and Windows 7’s.

“As Microsoft’s intelligence gets better in [the Malicious Software Removal Tool] and fewer attackers focus on the older OS, then fewer infections should be found on the older OS,” said Storms, talking about Windows XP.

Most of Microsoft’s infection rate data is derived from the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), a free utility it distributes to all Windows users each month that detects, then deletes selected malware families.

And the rise of infection rates in Vista and Windows 7?

“It would be expected that all the SKUs should go up slightly over time simply because new vulnerabilities are found, more attacks always happening, and so on,” Storms added.

Rains urged XP and Vista users to upgrade to the supported service packs — SP3 for XP, SP2 for Vista — to continue to receive patches.

The 126-page Security Intelligence Report that Rains referenced can be found on Microsoft’s website (download PDF)

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First Certification Exam – MCTS 70-536

With in 2 weeks of preparation for Microsoft Certification Exam, I finally got the opportunity to take up the Exam that too a free voucher from Microsoft Student Partners and cleared it in the first attemt. The Exam is none other than MCTS 070-536 ( Application Foundation ) ,the first exam of the .NET Series of Visual Studio 005 and 2008.The only Study material that i depended on was the Self-Training kit for MCTS 70-536 and it was very good too with a clear idea of what is expected of the Exam with the exceptions of few Mistakes.

The Exam Voucher i got was a Gift from Certkingdom.com for one of  in-order to pass the Test, u need to score 700 or More out of 1000..The Questions were very simple ( may be i might be lucky to get the easy one’s). I am waiting to receive my certificate / email from the Microsoft guys.

How I prepared :
It was a bit tough time for me handling My Intern Work doing projects with other technologies as well as simultaneously spend at-least 1-2 hours preparing for the technology the more i Like.
I picked up the MCTS 70-536 Application Foundation self training Kit and covered almost every chapter in it though left few stuffs because of over head transmission.
Like I said above, it was much easy then I thought it would be. The software was a bit slow, but for the most part it was ok. You do get to choose your language of preference (C#, VB or C++).

I was also happy for the fact that questions were from what i was strong and was prepared with.

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Microsoft dumps ‘Aero’ UI in Windows 8, ‘Metro-izes’ desktop

Won’t reveal Windows 8’s final desktop user interface until launch later this year

Computerworld – Microsoft said Friday that it is abandoning the “Aero” user interface with Windows 8, calling the UI that debuted in Vista and continued in Windows 7, “cheesy” and “dated.”

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In a massive 11,300-word blog post, Jensen Harris, the director of program management for Windows 8’s user experience team, said that the new operating system’s look-and-feel, its graphics user interface, or GUI, would be “clean and crisp,” and would do away with the “glass and reflections” that marked Aero.

The move was Microsoft’s attempt to bring the traditional desktop — one of two GUIs in Windows 8 — closer to the new Metro-style interface, said Harris.

“In the end, we decided to bring the desktop closer to the Metro aesthetic, while preserving the compatibility afforded by not changing the size of window chrome, controls, or system UI,” said Harris. “We have moved beyond Aero Glass — flattening surfaces, removing reflections, and scaling back distracting gradients.”

Aero first appeared in Windows Vista, which reached enterprises in late 2006 and consumers in early 2007, but Microsoft had been working on the GUI for years. The company showed elements of Aero in 2005 betas it distributed to select testers, for example.

Windows 7 also relied on Aero, although Microsoft tweaked the GUI, adding features like “Snap,” which automatically sized a window to half the screen, and changing the translucency of maximized windows.

Users will not get to see Windows 8’s new GUI until the operating system appears in final form later this year. “While a few of these visual changes are hinted at in the upcoming Release Preview, most of them will not yet be publicly available,” Harris acknowledged.

Microsoft will offer Windows 8 Release Preview, its last public milestone before completing the OS, the first week of June.

It’s unusual for Microsoft to keep a Windows GUI under wraps until final release: Both Vista and Windows 7 showed the finished Aero UI, or at the least, major chunks of it, months, even years, before those editions went on sale.

Other than derogatory references to Aero as first implemented in Vista — when Harris said, “This style of simulating faux-realistic materials (such as glass or aluminum) on the screen looks dated and cheesy now.” — he did not give explicit reasons for dropping Aero from the desktop, other than Microsoft’s desire to shift it closer to the new Metro design philosophy.

In a long section of his post, however, Harris called out seven goals of the Windows 8 GUI redesign. Most applied primarily to Metro, and secondly, to touch-based devices like tablets, or in a broader sense, to mobile devices where battery power is tight and longevity a critical concern.
Windows 8 UI
Microsoft won’t unveil the full Windows 8 desktop UI until this fall, but this screenshot of the Windows Explorer file manager is a sample of what the final will look like. (Image: Microsoft.)

Battery power, in fact, seemed to be the one goal that applied to the desktop GUI, something well-known Windows blogger Paul Thurrott noticed when he speculated that the effort to extend battery life was the reason for Aero’s demise.

“It’s all about battery life,” Thurrott argued on his SuperSite for Windows blog on Saturday. “Aero, with all its glassy, translucent goodness, is bad for battery life. Metro, meanwhile, which is flat, dull, not transparent, and only full screen, is very good for battery life.”

To lasso battery issues, Microsoft even considered limiting Windows 8 so that only one Metro app would run at a time. Ultimately, it decided against that restriction, and instead will allow two Metro apps to run simultaneously in a side-by-side view.

“Even with multitasking in the existing desktop still present, we did feel like only offering ‘one-at-a-time’ in the Metro style experience was a bit of a constraint, and not totally true to the Windows history of multitasking,” Harris said.

Also in his missive, Harris countered naysayers who have hammered Windows 8 for its touch-centric philosophy or for the lack of a traditional “Start” button on the desktop. He reminded them of early criticism when Windows took to the mouse, and the need to coach users of Windows 95 on how to use that edition’s Start button.

Harris also promised that GUI elements that have frustrated users — including difficulty in hitting the “hot” corner of the desktop that triggers the Start screen — had been addressed, and repeated earlier assertions that Microsoft would include tutorials with Windows 8 to show users how to manipulate both the desktop and Metro interfaces.

Essentially, his review of Windows GUIs, which stretched as far back as 1985’s original graphical shell atop DOS, and his comments around mice and usability, seemed to be a call for customers to give Windows 8 a chance.

“Yes, there are parts of the Windows 8 UI that have generated discussions and even debate, and aspects of the change that will take some people a little time to understand and digest,” Harris admitted. “Any change, particularly a change that doesn’t just follow in the footsteps of what everyone else is doing, can be hard to fully grasp at first…. The world changes and moves forward. Windows will continue to change too.”

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PC Self-Paced Certification Training Courses In MCTS SQL Simplified

Everybody is busy these days, and inevitably should we decide to advance our future prospects, taking a course alongside a job is the only option open to us. Certified training from Microsoft can be the way to do it. In addition, you may like to talk in detail on the sort of careers to be had when you’ve finished studying, and which personalities those jobs may be appropriate for. Many people like to discuss what they might be good at. Ensure your course is matched to your needs and abilities. A reputable training company will ensure that your training track is relevant to the status you wish to achieve.
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Any program that you’re going to undertake must provide a properly recognised qualification as an end-result – and not a worthless ‘in-house’ diploma – fit only for filing away and forgetting. If the accreditation doesn’t feature a big-hitter like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco or CompTIA, then chances are it will have been a waste of time – because it won’t give an employer any directly-useable skills.

Don’t get hung-up, as a lot of students can, on the accreditation program. You’re not training for the sake of training; you’re training to become commercially employable. You need to remain focused on where you want to go. It’s quite usual, for instance, to find immense satisfaction in a year of study only to end up putting 20 long years into a tiresome job role, simply because you did it without some quality research at the beginning.

Take time to understand how you feel about career development, earning potential, and whether you intend to be quite ambitious. You should understand what (if any) sacrifices you’ll need to make for a particular role, which particular certifications will be required and where you’ll pick-up experience from. We’d recommend you seek guidance and advice from an industry professional before you begin a particular training path, so you can be sure that the specific package will give the skill-set required for your career choice.

There are colossal changes washing over technology in the near future – and it becomes more and more thrilling each day. We’re barely beginning to get a handle on what this change will mean to us. How we interact with the world will be inordinately affected by computers and the web.

If earning a good living is around the top on your wish list, then you will be happy to know that the usual remuneration for most men and women in IT is much better than with most other jobs or industries. The need for appropriately qualified IT professionals is certain for a good while yet, thanks to the substantial growth in the technology industry and the huge deficiency that we still have.

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New book: Working with Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint

New book: Working with Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint

We’re happy to announce the availability of Working with Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint, by Mikael Svenson, Marcus Johansson and Robert Piddocke

Although SharePoint has always had search capabilities, those capabilities have been hugely improved by the addition of FAST Search for SharePoint (FS4SP). FS4SP provides a feature-rich alternative to the limited out-of-the-box search experience in SharePoint 2010, and can be extended to meet complex information retrieval requirements. If your organization is looking for a fully configurable and scalable search solution, Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint may be right for you.

The book is aimed squarely at SharePoint architects and developers who are either actively implementing search solutions using FS4SP or who simply want to learn more about how FS4SP works.

The book introduces the core concepts of FS4SP as well as some of the key concepts of enterprise search, then delves into deployment, operations, and development, presenting several “how to” examples of common tasks most administrators or developers will need to tackle as examples. In addition, the book includes two scenarios that showcase the capabilities of FS4SP for Intranet and E-commerce deployments. Beyond the explanatory content, most chapters include step by step examples and downloadable sample projects that you can explore for yourself.

You can view the complete table of contents and read the complete Chapter 1 sample chapter from

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Microsoft anti-bloatware service to apply to Windows 8 PCs, too

$99 ‘Signature Upgrade,’ done in company’s retail stores, scrubs junk from machines

Computerworld – A Microsoft in-store program that scrubs “bloatware” from Windows PCs will also be offered when Windows 8 machines reach the market later this year, a company representative said Wednesday.

The service, which is offered only in Microsoft’s small chain of retail stores — it now has 21 operating or in the works — is dubbed “Signature Upgrade,” and costs $99.

“We take off all the bloatware on the PC,” said a Microsoft store employee Wednesday when asked about the service.

On Microsoft’s website, the company described the Signature Upgrade this way: “We’ll install everything you need and remove the things you don’t, for a faster, more efficient, and secure PC experience.”

A Signature Upgrade requires the Windows PC to be left at the store for 24 to 48 hours.

Signature Upgrade is an offshoot of the Signature line of Windows PCs that Microsoft sells in its retail outlets and online. Those hand-picked notebooks and desktops are optimized for performance, says the Redmond, Wash. company, with “no trialware and sample software that typically bogs down new PCs.”

The Signature systems are, however, pre-loaded with Microsoft’s own Security Essentials antivirus software, and several other programs from the now-defunct Windows Live brand.

Bloatware is another term for trialware; both refer to PC makers’ habit of loading crippled versions of commercial software on the hard drive in the hope that some will upgrade to for-a-fee editions. Computer makers are paid by trialware creators and receive a portion of the revenue from any user upgrades.

The retail stores, as well as Microsoft’s online storefront, sell dozens of different PCs that have been stripped of bloatware, including models from Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. All are, of course, equipped with Windows 7.

But the Signature deals — whether new PCs or the upgrade service for already-owned machines — will continue when Microsoft and OEMs ship Windows 8, the store representative said.

Windows 8 won’t solve the bloatware problem — Microsoft cannot control what OEMs put on their machines — but the Metro interface, which relies on the Windows Store for all app distribution, might curb some of the more aggressive practices.

Last fall, Microsoft told hardware makers that it would limit automatic Metro app installations to just one per external device.

The company has also added new tools to Windows 8, called Reset and Refresh, that will let users restore their PCs to an out-of-the-box state. Microsoft did not connect the new tools to bloatware removal when it announced them last January, but stressed the simplicity of a chore that previously took multiple steps and required manual reinstallation of the OS.

Microsoft has not announced a launch date for Windows 8, nor has it said when systems powered by the revamped operating system will reach retail, but most experts have pegged both events to the fourth quarter.

Windows 8 Release Candidate, a more polished version than the Consumer Preview of late February, is slated to debut the first week of June.

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Microsoft to charge $15 for Windows 8 upgrade deal

Blogger pegs price for Windows 7 PC buyers during run-up to fall debut of new OS

Computerworld – Microsoft will charge users who buy a new Windows 7 PC $14.99 for an upgrade to Windows 8, according to a report.
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The cost of the upgrade was revealed yesterday by Paul Thurrott, a popular blogger who writes SuperSite for Windows.

An earlier report by CNET had claimed that Microsoft would charge a fee for the upgrade, but had not spelled out the amount. CNET said that the program would kick off alongside the delivery of Windows 8 Release Preview.

Microsoft has said it will ship the preview the first week of June. If the company follows the same schedule it used in 2009 to deliver Windows 7’s release candidate, the most likely date is Tuesday, June 5.

Eligible customers must purchase a new Windows 7-powered PC between June 2012 and January 2013.

Unlike the past two upgrades — a 2006 program for Windows XP-to-Vista and the 2009 deal for Vista-to-Windows 7 — Microsoft will this time not upgrade users to the corresponding Windows 8 edition, but instead will provide everyone with Windows 8 Pro, the higher-end version of the two that will be widely available at retail, said both Thurrott and CNET.

The two previous upgrade plans offered the newer operating system for either no cost or for a small fee. Details varied, as computer makers fulfilled the offer, with some demanding small fees while others provided the upgrade free of charge.

Some OEMs had given customers free upgrades to earlier editions as well. In 1998, Gateway, for years a Dell rival in the direct sales market, offered free Windows 98 upgrades to people who bought a Windows 95 machine prior to the former’s release.

Although Microsoft has not divulged upgrade pricing for Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro, if it sticks to its current scheme, those versions will run customers $120 and $200, respectively. Microsoft’s $15 charge for the Windows 8 Pro upgrade would then represent a discount of nearly 93%.

Apple, which is also releasing a new operating system upgrade this year, has not announced an upgrade program. Last year it offered customers a free copy of OS X 10.7, or Lion, if they bought a Mac equipped with Snow Leopard.

Apple’s OS pricing, however, has been significantly lower than Microsoft’s of late: Upgrades to OS X 10.6, aka Snow Leopard, and Lion ran users $29 and $30, respectively.

Users ineligible for the low-cost Windows 8 upgrade may be able to score a copy at a substantial discount if Microsoft’s promise of “limited-time programs and promotions” results in a repeat of the aggressive deal the company ran for Windows 7 pre-sales.

In mid-2009, Microsoft sold Windows 7 upgrades for between 50% and 58% off the sticker price, then delivered those orders after the late-October launch of the OS.

Microsoft will likely run the Windows 8 upgrade program through a website it registered in February.

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