This isn’t much of a surprise, but it does count as yet another indicator that yes, Windows 8 is coming out this year: the planned $15 upgrade for Windows 7 users to pick up the operating system will end on January 31st, The Verge is reporting.

The implication is obvious: as Microsoft intends to end the upgrade plan from Windows 7 to Windows 8 by the end of the first month of 2013, Windows 8 will have come out by then. This is true as the need for such an upgrade plan only persists while it is possible to buy Windows 7 machines that will require an upgrade, plus an interval following to give consumers the time that they need to execute the upgrade.

And so, starting from June 2nd to early next year, whatever machine you buy, Windows 8 will be an easy route to take, if you so wish.

If you recall, there is a very interesting element to the Windows 8 upgrade process: users won’t be upgrading to the base version of the operating system, but instead to the Windows 8 Pro version. It’s not immediately obvious why this is the case. Perhaps there is a technical advantage to the decision.

I have to wonder, given the exceptionally low price that Microsoft is charging for the Windows 8 upgrade, that there is perhaps more than kindness to its customers, and the wish to preserve PC sales in the short-term in the move. I wonder if the upgrade price is designed to simply grow the Windows 8 userbase; Microsoft will suffer from an industry meltdown if initial Windows 8 sales figures are weak. This could be a way to allow the company to more quickly announce milestone quantities of Windows 8 users, and of course, to grow the install base that will patronize the Windows Store.

Whatever the case, the cheap upgrade to Windows 8 is real, coming, and will be long-enduring.