Microsoft continued apologizing for its past behavior by announcing that retail copies of Windows 8.1 will be available in standalone, full versions of the software, rather than as upgrades from previous versions of Windows.

Unfortunately, pricing for the new Windows 8.1 editions will match that of Windows 8: $120 for Windows 8.1 by itself, and $200 for the Pro edition. If you already have Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 and wish to upgrade to the Pro version, you can still do so for $100. There’s also a $10 upgrade for Pro users who want to add Media Center functionality.

But with Windows 8.1, Microsoft will make two important changes. First, users have the option of buying either an upgrade code for digital download or a retail DVD. That allows traditionalists the option of a physical disc in case of a hard disk crash. But the standalone option also should offer customers the alternative of building a new, low-cost PC upon which they can run Windows 8.1.

“This shift allows more flexibility for customers in specific technical scenarios and is in response to feedback we’ve received,” Windows blogger Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a Tuesday blog post. “It will be easier for those consumers who want to build PCs from scratch, run Windows 8.1 in Virtual Machine (VM) environments, or run Windows 8.1 on a second hard drive partition.”

Users who already own Windows 8 will receive Windows 8.1 as a free upgrade from the Windows Store. Users who install “fresh” copies of the Windows 8.1 OS shouldn’t have to worry about reinstalling any apps or settings. Users who have already downloaded the Windows 8.1 preview onto their Windows 8 machines will have to reinstall their applications, however.

LeBlanc also promised “new retail offers” as October 18 approaches. That’s the date when Microsoft will launch Windows 8.1 in retail.