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October 15, 2012

Windows 8 Pro Available Oct. 26

Microsoft is breaking an unofficial rule: it’s taking pre-orders for Windows 8 Pro before the release of a new operating system.

This is a first for the company, and a sign that it is continuing to shift toward the customs of competitors Apple and Google, analysts said.

Together with the customary security updates, Microsoft has shipped four non-security updates exclusive to Windows 8, which goes on sale Oct. 26.

Never before has Microsoft updated a version of Windows between release to manufacturing and when the OS and computers powered by it were available for purchase. Normally, most of Microsoft’s main changes for service packs — groups of formerly-released security patches, non-security bug fixes and new features or developments — are issued every year-and-a-half.

“During the final months of Windows 8 we challenged ourselves to create the tools and processes to be able to deliver these “post-RTM” updates sooner than a service pack,” Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live division at Microsoft, said in a blog post.

“By developing better test automation and test coverage tools we are happy to say that Windows 8 will be totally up-to-date for all customers starting at General Availability.”

Windows 8 Pro can be reserved for $69.99 at, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot and the Microsoft Store.

Those who wait until the Oct. 26 release date can upgrade online for $39.99 at using the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant.