Windows 8 $14.99 upgrade now requires Windows 7 product key

Microsoft now asks you to enter your Windows 7 key during the upgrade process in order to qualify for the offer.

People who bought a Windows 7 PC on or after June 2 can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $14.99, but they now have to supply the Windows 7 product ID.

Microsoft kicked off registration for the $14.99 deal in August. Anyone who bought or will buy a new Windows 7 PC between June 2 of this year and January 31 of next year can upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for that special price. Shelling out the $14.99 lets you download a copy of the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, which helps you install the new operating system.

The deal cuts $25 off the standard Windows 8 Pro upgrade, which costs $39.99 to download for Windows XP and Vista users and Windows 7 users who purchased their PCs before June 2. People who want an actual installation disc have to cough up $69.99.

Until recently, the $14.99 upgrade process asked you to enter only the name and manufacturer of your Windows 7 PC, and the date you bought it. You’d then receive one of two notices, either a Success message telling you that you qualified, or a Sorry message breaking the news that you didn’t qualify.

But that process seemed a bit buggy.

I tried to register for the $14.99 upgrade last week with three different PCs, all from Lenovo and all purchased after June 2. One PC qualified for the upgrade, but two did not, with no explanation why. I tried the process a few times with the two failed PCs, but each time I came up empty.

I again tried the process yesterday and this time discovered that Microsoft now asked for my Windows 7 product ID as additional proof. After entering the ID….Success. I now qualified for the upgrade.

Based on various online comments, other recent Windows 7 PC buyers were bumping into the same initial problem of being rejected for the offer.

The new Windows 7 product key requirement may be Microsoft’s attempt to fix that problem. It also ensures that only legitimate Windows 7 buyers can take advantage of the $14.99 deal.

The offer limits you to five PCs, and you can install the Windows 8 upgrade on any PC, not necessarily the one with the product key that you use to qualify. The $14.99 and $39.99 deals both end January 31. So those of you want to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro should take advantage of those prices while they last.

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