Microsoft has opened up pre-orders for retail copies of Windows 8, which is scheduled to become publically available on October 26. While the best way to acquire Windows 8 is to do so digitally via – netting you an upgrade copy of Windows 8 Pro for just $39.99 – you’ll still be able to purchase a boxed copy through traditional retailers for $69.99 and up. The packaging looks exactly like the leaked images from early August, presenting a fresh take on Microsoft’s operating system.

The OS will be sold through a variety of retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, and the Microsoft Store. In the hours since pre-orders went live, Windows 8 Pro has already rocketed to the No. 1 spot on Amazon’s Software Best Seller list. Microsoft is pricing physical copies of Windows 8 at $99.99 for the baseline version, $139.99 for the Pro version, $69.99 for the Pro upgrade, and $69.99 for the Pro Pack with a product key card.

PC and device manufacturers have also begun putting their hardware up for pre-order, including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Samsung, and Sony. The Surface, for now, still remains a mystery. With any luck, Microsoft will announce more details soon; possibly in conjunction with its $1.5-1.8 billion marketing blitz, which will reportedly be kicked off this weekend.

[Windows Observer | Windows Blog]