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One Windows 8 Hassle Solved: Media Center Will be Free (if You Upgrade)

Not only that, Microsoft is offering Windows 8 upgrades for just $39.99. Two steps in the right direction.

Two months ago I advised all fans of Windows Media Center to avoid upgrading to Windows 8, for the simple reason that Microsoft would not be bundling the beloved software with the new OS -- and instead charging extra for it after the fact.

Judging by the number of comments and recommendations that post received, readers shared my outrage.

I'm happy to report that Microsoft has apparently shifted gears, giving the people what they want (kind of) and dialing back the greed.

According to Windows blogger Brandon LeBlanc, users can now buy a Windows 8 upgrade for $40 -- and get Windows Media Center free as part of the deal. Wrote LeBlanc earlier today:

"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. And if you want, you can add Windows Media Center for free through the "add features" option within Windows 8 Pro after your upgrade."

That's two big steps in the right direction: making Windows 8 affordable, and continuing to offer WMC free of charge. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft will stick with plans to charge for the latter when people buy new PCs that come with Windows 8 -- and what that charge might be.

This upgrade option is available to users of Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, and it runs through January 31, 2013. You'll need to make your purchase through Windows.com.

Starting when? Microsoft still hasn't finalized a "general availability" date, but chances are good it'll be sometime in September or October -- same as Windows 7 three years ago.

My question for you: Does this surprisingly low upgrade price and the restoration of Windows Media Center make you more likely to upgrade?

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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