Microsoft will make it affordable to ditch your current Windows installation for the latest version. If your system is running Windows XP, Vista or 7, you'll be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $39.99 and if desired, you'll be able to add Windows Media Center for free via the "add features" option after the operating system installs.

Besides being cheap, the upgrade sounds straightforward enough for most users to perform without assistance. After downloading the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant, you'll be guided from purchase to installation, informing you about application or device incompatibilities, Windows 8's features, what you'll be able to keep and so on.

For reference, it was $120 or $220 to upgrade a Windows Vista machine to Windows 7 Home Premium or Ultimate (excluding promotions such as academic discounts and family packs).

It's worth noting that, although you can download an ISO via the Upgrade Assistant and create your own bootable DVD or USB drive, Microsoft will sell you a backup DVD for $15 plus shipping. Likewise, physical retail copies of the Windows 8 Pro upgrade media will cost $69.99. These prices will be available in 131 markets through January 31, 2013, and it's unclear how much they'll increase afterward.

As a reminder, folks who purchase a Windows 7 computer after June 2 will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for only $14.99. Upgrading from Windows 7 will be seamless, allowing you to keep your files, applications and operating system settings. Windows Vista will only be able to keep files, while XP users will be able keep files and applications, if a rumor from last week pans out.