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With Windows 8, Microsoft to replace full retail edition with System Builder version

Microsoft could be preparing to do away with the full retail version of its operating system when the Windows 8 release rolls around this autumn, according to new reports. Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott of the Windows Weekly podcast both cited a source to that effect.

If the rumours prove to be true, Windows 8 will only be available bundled with a new PC or as an upgrade to an existing version of Windows. The alternative, a stand-alone boxed version sold by retailers, will be scrapped and replaced by a System Builder version.

Microsoft recently confirmed that it would ship a System Builder iteration of Windows 8 for users building their own machines or for Mac customers wishing to run the operating system in a separate partition. But other than in those two scenarios, there are few instances in which a home user would need to buy the OS without a new PC or as an upgrade from an existing version.

The move would signify a new, simplified approach to licensing and distribution on Microsoft’s part.

Microsoft has confirmed that the new OS will be released to manufacturing in early August and will be available to the public towards the end of October. Customers running Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 will be eligible for a Windows 8 Pro upgrade, to be priced at $39.99 (£25).