Microsoft has been promising a cheap-and-cheerful upgrade path to Windows 8 for those who buy new PCs, but what about that five-year-old PC in the basement? Not many people know what is Microsoft is going to do.
Today I hope to answer some of your questions.
If Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet is right, the upgrade path will go further back..all the way to XP SP3.
Although upgraders will still want Windows 7 if they need to carry over absolutely everything, tipsters claim that settings can transfer from releases as old as Windows Vista SP1. Those with older (XP SP3) machines will be able to bring over personal files, but not settings (which should sorta be expected).
As for Windows 7 folks, the same upgrade rules still apply. You still have to buy the same version of Windows 8 as Windows 7 - meaning that you cannot jump from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 8 Professional. You also can't jump code base either, so you cannot jump to 32 bit to 64 bit, and vice versa, without doing a full clean install.
The extra-long olive branch will be slightly unusual for Microsoft if it's confirmed, but then the company is also trying to move along a user base that in some cases has clung to XP for more than a decade. Redmond is no doubt eager to get rid of our dependency issues.
(Keep in mind though that what I said about Windows 7 is still true, it was the same thing for Vista to 7 upgrades)