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I know that the developer and consumer previews can't be upgraded to the final release version of Windows 8, but I was under the impression that the release preview is the same as the RTM version.

My university pays for Dreamspark premium, so I'm able to download the release preview through that. Would it be appropriate to begin using it right away (as my primary OS), and upgrade it to the final version on release day?

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To answer my own initial question, yes you can upgrade from the Release Preview to the final version, at a cost of $40, as long as your Release Preview was installed on top of an existing Windows license (not a clean install). Source

So the question for me, as a Dreamspark user became: Is the version of Windows 8 that's currently on dreamspark the Release Preview, or is it the RTM, final version, requiring no $40 upgrade in the future. The answer to this appears to be that the Dreamspark download is the RTM version, and no upgrade will be required on retail release day. Source

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I don't think that MS will offer Windows 8 Final Version for Free on DreamSpark, its more likely that they will offer some other beta version to developers for testing and development.

Also note that the final release of Windows 8 will not support upgrading from any prior Windows 8 "Preview" release, though the migrate option will still be supported. In any upgrade scenario, you can run the Disk Cleanup Wizard to remove the previous installation in order to free up disk space. The download will also support boot from USB for a completely clean installation as well.

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Are you sure about either of those points? The links I included in my answer seem to contradict both of your paragraphs (in opposite order). –  Cam Jackson Sep 2 '12 at 13:11
    
First point was my thought, Second point is from a MVP's answer. answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/… –  Lamb Sep 2 '12 at 16:37
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Release Preview is not the same as the final release.

Windows 8 Developer/Consumer Previews were first, and was effectively an Alpha-test release.

Windows 8 Release Preview was a beta version of Windows 8.

The final version of Windows 8 is Windows 8 RTM.

In order to use Windows8, you will need to install Windows8 RTM from scratch. From then on, Windows Update will keep you fully up-to-date with the newest and most secure version of Windows.

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According to the first link in my answer, the release preview will be updateable to the RTM. Either way, what my second link seems to suggest is that the Dreamspark version (which is what I have) is the RTM version anyway, not the Release Preview. –  Cam Jackson Sep 2 '12 at 13:13
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