Microsoft considers a future where Windows 8 is free for all

We recently received reports that Microsoft would be slashing the costs of their Windows licensees by up to 70% in an effort to take on competitors in the lower end and tablet markets including Google’s Chrome OS and Apple’s iOS. The Redmond based company may take it a step further though, according to reports released today, Microsoft could be experimenting with a free version of Windows 8 and an alternative way of bringing in consumers.

When you start up your Windows 8 computer, you are instantly launched into a world of free Microsoft services including Bing Search, OneDrive, Skype, and (in some cases) copies of Office.  While, the free inclusions may be an incentive for picking up Windows 8 over other operating systems – Microsoft is not sure if it is the solution for them.

Microsoft Might Have a Problem

To break it down in overly simplistic terms, there are two ways one can usually pair software and services. One can take the Google approach (also used by Amazon) and provide their software free, and decide to make revenue on services, or one can take the Microsoft approach (also used by Apple) and provide their services free after buying into their software.

The problem is that in today’s world, a lower cost of entry into an ecosystem can define its success versus surrounding competitors. While a few of us would push up our noses at the mention of Google’s low cost Chromebooks, the $249 price tag that accompanies many of the devices is something to pique the interest of users in an uncertain economy.

Microsoft’s solution in battling the problem may be to make their Windows 8 operating system free of charge, while instead making money off their services and app ecosystem. This idea has become known after Microsoft journalist, Mary Jo Foley, has reported that a new SKU known as “Windows 8.1 with Bing” could be “a kind of placeholder for the future when consumer operations systems are [basically], free.” While the strategy is not etched in stone and shows no immediate signs that it could be thrown onto the marketplace – it is an interesting position to consider from Microsoft’s position.

The Possible Solution

The benefit of making Windows 8 free is evident as soon as the idea is mentioned – increased operating system market share and the ability to reach lower end markets with ease. The trade-off would be the fact that Microsoft would now need to make the majority of its money from its Windows app store and supporting services (many that are already free).

It is suggested that one solution to the problem would be performing a 180-degree turn and deciding to charge for services such as Skype, OneDrive, and Bing. It is a bit difficult to imagine that in a world ruled by Google, that users would pay for Bing, but it is a thought for consideration.

With today’s current strategy, Skype is a free service powered by ads and OneDrive storage space is constantly being given away (such as recently with Bing Rewards). If Microsoft was to chase the free operating system option – much of this could change.

In essence, you would not be paying much more (or more at all) as a consumer, because all of the money that you would have invested in paying for your operating system license would now be spent on the services – it would even itself out.

While there is no confirmation at this point that “Windows 8 with Bing” is more than an experiment by Microsoft, the possibly of a future with free operating systems is a likely one as we try to push device prices ever father down.

How would you feel if Microsoft switched to a free version of Windows 8 and instead began charging for services such as Skype and OneDrive?

Source: ZDNet

Michael Archambault
  • What will u earn microsoft keeping Windows free?
  • Some might say it should be ;-)
  • Its better they use their profits in other things may be any damn other business
  • Omg they try copy linux, wannabe ms #Linux4Life #eThugs
  • Free Linux isnt worth than a free Windows
  • Look this insane where r u living? MS office here atleast in India is widely used.
  • Are you serious?
  • The entire enterprise world uses office. How old are you?
  • Paid os free services. That should be the mission Mr Billgates, Nadella and Ballmer.
  • Im 9 and a half years old, sir
  • Go back to bed then u should have an apple. MS isnt for u its for the enterprises, corporates and students.
  • Maybe you don't need office for writing book reports for junior high. Office is considerably more powerful than Google's docs. When you get a real job, you will need to start using office. You should start learning it now. They do offer free office web apps that are similar to Google Docs and will at least get you used to using full office when you grow up.
  • @Jaskys, so at that age U don't need Excel to perform Pivot Tables!
  • I think they didn't get the irony in your comments..
  • Yeah, i thought it was pretty obvious But whatever...
  • I think you need to practice the execution of your irony Jaskys, because currently it is severely lacking and simply makes you look a fool.
  • Really? ALL CAPS WASN'T OBVIOUS ENOUGH? TROLL HASTTAGS WEREN'T ENOUGH ASWELL   People who thought that im serious are hardcore ms fanboys or completely retarded   It couldn't be more obvious really
  • Kid, looks like u hate MS!
  • Man shut up because u and everybody knows that MS Office is #1.
  • Only universities use open office only because its free and utterly useless..
  • Open office isn't that bad. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • my entire university uses Microsoft email services and Office 365 and the Microsoft Office suite on all computers
  • You're all wrong.
  • Is this a serious comment?
  • Should there be an /s after that statement? MS Office is widely used in business and because it is used in business, many consumers use it as well.
  • Office is used by just about every major business and the military. Microsoft Office is one of the major thing MS shouldn't have to worry about
  • Lol. I'm using it.
  • This news has the linux community shaking scared. Year of the linux desktop will never come now.
  • I don't think this counts as "copying" by any means.
  • Business just doesn't make sense to me. I think this is a stupid idea. I'd prefer they charge and use the bigger profit to put more resources into the ecosystem.
  • Thats what even I was saying above and now they should invest more in bing now to compete Google by making their own video search engine and apps.
  • Agreed!
  • Google is evil! Bing it on! Bing is now my default search engine.  I'm not saying I never search Google if I can't find what I am looking for on Bing. Every time you click on a sponsored link in Google you are feeding the monster and giving away a little piece of your soul.
  • They really do not need to start becoming like Google. Innovate not follow
  • Like George Bush sr once said " We are the leader, not followers ?' hopefully Ms notice your comment.
  • They ll earn from the windows 8 store.
    they ll earn from Bing ads.
    they ll earn from onedrive.
  • Not ao much as from the os itself
  • Depends, they could go do an Xbox gold membership style setup. $10/mo and you get everything: Skype, Office, Onedrive, etc...
  • The idea is to get as many people as they can to use this OS. Android OS is invading laptop territory where windows dominates. That is a much bigger threat than chrome. By making the os free and earning from services they ensure..1) everyone has the latest os. 2) can cut back on supporting older os 3) malware problems reduced when everyone has the latest os.4) popularize the use of bing with existing windows 7/vista/xp users. 5) more people using it = more devs interested = more apps = more revenue.
  • 500 rs sound great instead of free make more titles fr free lik asphalt 8 " paid for limited time " universal price 55  to 100 rs any app  
  • Not good idea to go 100% free. MS should be more flexible with pricing. Perhaps no charges for up to 8.5' tablets to encourage mass production. Then gradually introduce some charges.
  • Hmm and then there are people like u.
  • Going permanently back to the introductory price of Windows 8 would be a good start. I bought a couple of licenses back when they were cheap and would've needed one or two more later on, but the use cases for the additional licenses haven't warranted a 100€+ license purchase. At 40€ a pop I wouldn't have even thought about it but went ahead and purchased.
  • I still don't get why they don't go the monthly subscription route of a small monthly payment for all linked services. Windows + office £4 per month and Skype included on all your devices. Xbox Live £4 inc Skype. Xbox music and films £5 per month. They could bundle them all as £9.99 per month, £14.99 to include office 365 too. I would be straight on it. I have had my current PC since 2008, and it was 2yrs old then. The machine was sold with Windows XP and Office. At the time I was being made redundant and managed to get it for £75, with a monitor. So in the last six years I have paid them nothing, aside from my Xbox Live. I have usually bought live for around £30 per year. In fact, the thing I have wanted to do for ages is upgrade the PC, but the cost of Office with Outlook etc and Windows License is quite prohibitive.
  • This would be a good strategy in first world economies, but it would render the action of making Windows free useless in developing countries, or it would just outright kill all their services in these countries because not everyone has a credit card. I don't know how much revenues they get from ads from these places but it is a point to consider specially if they are going after the numbers in market share.
  • Then it would be good for 1st world countries. They can adopt the free model elsewhere. They have different pricing for different markets. The Chinese market gets software far cheaper, in an effort to counter the massive piracy. I would be happy to use direct debit or standing order, I also do not have a credit card. Incidentally, I got my current version of Office for free. They offered up a 5 user license to a family member and I use one of those. They paid £15 for the licenses (yes, £3 each), because MS offered all the staff at the company a huge discount due to the amount of licenses they use for business. That is in the UK, so it can be done. I also think Skype should be free for WP users, and possibly also Android and Apple. MS should be attempting to make Skype more than relevant than Whatsapp et al. It still staggers me that MS does not ramp up Skype use to as many as possible.
  • Nobody pays for windows in the developing country unless you are an enterprise. 90% of windows in these countries is pirated. Makes sense to make it free. And make the money on the OS. Oh and lock google out as well. No anti-trust issues either. It's free, it's proprietary and competitors such as mac and google have their own offerings.
  • 500 rs sound great instead of free make more titles fr free lik asphalt 8 " paid for limited time " universal price 55  to 100 rs any app   this is my dream pricing about ms since win xp   ms office ftw <3    who speaked a word against ms office i think they are blind or iq level too level :P
  • yeah, I think simply going cheaper is enough just like they recently supposedly dropped Windows Phone license fees by 70%       Google is free and I still don't want it
  • They have a broad portfolio, window azure(cloud based services), office/office365, server operating systems for companies who prefer onsite hardware, hyper-v, aviation software, automobile software, hardware sales, etc.
  • Way too good to be truth, it would be an android of pc(well it already is but would get even more attention) MS could probably live from ads in their market apps and aswell from taking cuts from market purchases, i can't see any other smart way to implement this Or... Pay 5$ to connect your usb charger to your windows pc, for 10$ extra you will be able to insert cds and usb sticks. It could be possible if EA was in a driver seat of MS
  • Your mother must be proud of you son for making a fool out of yourself ,socially.
  • There is something I don´t understand... Isn´t bing maps actually here maps? I mean I thought bing maps was just a brand but that the interns are actually here maps or navteq or whatever... I didn´t know Microsoft has its own developed mapping solution
  • Should be maybe a few bucks, like $10 or $20 for the consumers to buy, not free. :-/
  • +920
  • $940 is too much.
  • lol
  • Free free FREE. $10-20 for OEMs. Free for consumers who chose to buy a windows laptop/pc as opposed to a mac or chromebook
  • I think technically it is better to pay $200 for Windows and be able to use Skype and OneDrive for free the rest of your life, rather than getting it free and paying $10 a month for Skype, OneDrive and all that. I'll be paying more than what I pay now in less than two years, but it seems nice if I know I'll live for a year or so :p The best scenario: Win8=free with One Drive and Skype. Don't mind ads up on them and Bing as well. But their Xbox subscription ought to earn them a fortune with Windows running in every houshold! The last thing I want is to see ads embeded in Windows, that will be sensible for MS if they are going to keep Win8 and other services for free, but from a consumer point of view, I'd rather have current mechanism.
  • Wrong reply. I never said anything about monthly subscription.
  • if they ever charged for skype then people would just ditch it even faster than they currently are doing. skype needs fixing and quick, charging would kill it
  • I'd be happy if they just gave you a windows 8 disc when you bought a PC.
  • Ain't that the truth...
  • on a usb stick is more helpful
  • Will that be after Windows 9 comes out and no one uses Windows 8?
  • Are they talking about full Windows 8 or just Windows 8 RT?
  • Licensing for RT is what should be free.  I agree.  
  • +920
  • Windows RT is only for ARM processors. So no, it will not be RT and It still amazes me how many people still don't know that. 
  • I'd rather pay for Windows.
  • Yeah me too
  • Me too.
  • Agree on that I don't want adds on my start section. I just imagine development drop on windows and later on Office and any other MSFT tools
  • Same here; subsidized or ads supported OS is not for me.
  • I see bright future for ad blocker :D
  • +1  
  • Yea I agree it's a certain feel I get when im checking my Gmail that makes me feel uncomfortable im not a big fan of being flooded with adds that im happy I don't get from Microsoft services and id hate to have windows 8 with adds everywhere
  • +1
  • i concur. I cant afford to pay for extra services, but when i buy a pc, it comes with windows, and it's not like OEM's woukd lower prices that much anyhow. I'd spend more long run.
  • Bingows
  • Lol! And Bingows was its name-o!
  • And I don't feel they should charge for those services. Pay for Windows, and I want those services for free (pay more for other stuff, obviously). I don't want free windows, but have to pay for Skype and OneDrive.
  • Agree keep Windows pricing alone and away from ads, and charge for Skype and OneDrive.  
  • If the price of SkyDrive becomes a just one time payment, then I'd be ok. But if not, I would never pay for it. And even less for Bing lol As far as I'm concerned, they'd win more by lowering the price of Windows instead of going 100% free but charge for services that people would easily replace for free solutions.
  • Agreed on each point. I would much rather just have a lower OS price..maybe around $40-60 ($250 for W8 Pro is absolutely ridiculous). On the other hand, if the subscription prices for their services were at a really low price point, were easily bundle-able, could be carried accross multiple machines/devices, and subscriptions included all future updates, that might be worth considering. I think I'd be willing to pay $30 a month for an all inclusive MS thing like: Xbox Live + Xbox Music Pass + Office + OneDrive + etc...
  • "$250 for W8 Pro is absolutely ridiculous)." Why the hell is it ridiculous? Unless you are 5 you should know that every other Windows OS before Win8 cost $250-320; so I don't get why all of a sudden you would expect it to be free or dead cheap.  
  • Really..? Look at the price of "non-Pro" Windows 8 - it's half the price and missing only a few features. And no, Vista and 7 were around $120, just like "non-Pro" Windows 8 - and no, I'm not talking about the Ultimate editions (which were still cheaper at around $180) - Home Premium had pretty well the same features included in 8 Pro. In any case - even if the old ones *had been* the same price at $250, it's still a ridiculous price considering there are free operating systems out there that have more or less the same functionality. Not to mention, you can buy a ridiculously cheap laptop or tablet instead of just an OS. If it were <= $100 it wouldn't be a big deal at all, but for $250, you should expect more than an OS. EDIT: I've mistaken the $250 retail tag on Win8 Pro as an OEM SKU - OEM Win8 Pro can be had for around $160, which is much less ridiculous. I stand by my ultimate point though: retail Windows OS prices are ridiculous to be over $200.
  • 120 was for an upgrade path, not the full OS. Guess we know how tech savvy you are
  • Hahaha you're kidding me right? I guess it's right back at you then - OEM discs aren't for can install it on whatever the hell you want. Good try at pulling mis-information out of your backside though...
  • OEM versions have limitations and legaly you can't install it on whatever you want. "Microsoft OEM System Builder License. This software is intended for pre-installation on a new personal computer for resale. This OEM System Builder Channel software requires the assembler to provide end user support for the Windows software and cannot be transferred to another computer once it is installed."  
  • No - they're not *intended* to be installed on anything you want.. which means nothing other than them not recommending you install it yourself. There are no legalities surrounding it. I've been buying only OEM licenses for years now - and for many computers built for others. There is absolutely nothing illegal about it - sites like NCIX wouldn't sell them if that was the case. And with the transferring to other computers - there are ways around that as well, and entirely through Microsoft themselves - which of course, is perfectly legal.
  • OEM disc were either free or roughly $12-$14 from the OEM if the system didn't have warranty
  • Ok.. you're talking about an OEM disc from buying a Dell or ASUS machine. That's not at all what I'm talking about. I'm talking about OEM Microsoft Windows discs - rather than the retail ones. For example, lookup this part number: FQC-06950 You'll find plenty of stores selling them.
  • No. Just no.
  • Apple is worth 5 Googles, so keep it like it is now.
  • MS=10 googles
  • Actually, I think its only like 2.5 Googles.
  • This sounds like a dangerous idea from a profitability standpoint. Unless it is Win8 = free, so that XP users can move on without an excuse after XP support ends, and Win9 costs money as usual.
  • Windows XP users had a chance to get Windows 8 at only $40 for a few months when it released, I don't see why they should get another freebie; and anyway if you are still running XP chances are you need a whole new PC not just a new OS.  
  • I bought several win8 licenses at the $40 price point. Well worth it.
  • My old XP Lenovo laptop (Core2Duo) Thinkpad W500 was downgraded to XP instead of Vista back when i bought it - I think in 2008, not long before Windows 7 was released.  Either way, I spent the 40$ to upgrade to Windows 8, and the thing runs better than it did when i bought it.
  • When it was downgraded from Vista, then of course it will run Win8; but not all systems built for XP might do so. For one, there is a CPU limitation and Win8 won't run on certain Intel Pentium 4 CPU's [know this from personal experience and had to stick to Win7 on that system.]    
  • I'd pay, but it wouldn't be bad if they lowered their rates closer to the competition (mac osx).
  • The thing is you pay for all the OSX updates when you buy the hardware.
  • Which is $0 now.
  • Same here.
  • All they have to so is reduce the price of windows 8 from 200$ to $80 , $200 dollars is honestly a waste of money on software especially if your not using it for a profession like ableton, PhotoShop, Sony Vegas etc
  • You can get Windows 8 for $120, if you are not a professional you don't need the Pro version for $200. Also most people get Windows 'free' when they buy a new PC and only few upgrade the OS.    
  • That would probably mean that power users like me (w/o steady or low income) would be somewhat forced to switch to free services that suck. No, just lower the price for Windows and keep the services as they are.
  • Stupid idea. This is what makes you stand out. Google android sucks, don't try to suck windows. I love you
  • Same I'd rather pay for windows.
  • They really do not need to start becoming like Google. Innovate not follow They really do not need to start becoming like Google. Innovate not follow
  • Same here in Canada. Office and windows are the norm, and rightly so, everywhere!
  • If they unified Windows Phone and Windows RT and made that free while charging for Windows 8 Pro, then I can see it winning. I could also see them going with a freemium model for Office, Onedrive, and Xbox Music Pass. They could make money from ads for the casual users and charge the business customers or power users. I would love to have a cheap tablet, smart phone, or phablet, but I would pay for a full version of Windows for my PC.
  • Please no, don't want more ads everywhere! Just make it affordable!! Something between 20 and 50 euro, that should be good! If they go free, they can never go back.
  • In my opinion, if it isn't broke, don't fix it. They are still bringing in massive revenue and profit, why make such a drastic change and take such a huge risk?
  • Charging for Skype Nd one drive. MS Youre not going right dont worry be more dynamic. Still you are a monopolist in the world
  • What will be the point of a Microsoft ecosystem? What would differentiate it from the Android "race for the bottom" approach? Most people choose google over Bing. Skype is still popular despite being connected to MS because it is free. Now make people pay to use each and Bing will disappear and Skype will evaporate in place of free alternatives.
    MS might choose to make two versions of its OS available, one "free/pay as you go" and the other "pay upfront", but the former would always suffer from a weak ecosystem compared to Android, and what would stop people from taking the OS for free and then doing to obvious, adding in free services from Google and Amazon? Now you e given away your core technology and are getting no revenue from associated services. The only way to prevent this would be to lock out those free services, which will drive away the Customers you seek. I can only see this making any sense if MS offers a stripped down OS for free with pay as you go services with a pay to upgrade path that allows you to use Office on a free OS and upgrade it if you like. That would provide a differentiation and value that Google doesn't have to offer.
  • no , i would rather pay them , makers behind windows (developers ) have worked so hard to deliver best experience , so i will support them by purchasing a copy.
  • Just drop the price of Windows 8 for consumers to about 30 to 40$. Don't make it too cheap that people question if it's bad thus the ridiculous price but don't make it too expensive that it doesn't sell much more than Windows 7.
  • Windows XP was not $40; neither was Windows 7; There is no reason for it to be that cheap if you want truly great software without ads or other compromises. Nobody complained when Windows XP  or 7 cost $300.  
  • Yeah. Nobody complained. They simply pirate it :3
  • Speak for yourself, I am perfectly happy to pay for good solid software with good support and frequent security updates. The OS is the main thing on your PC, I would never risk a pirated version with possible hacked holes for who knows what purposes. How can you trust all your files to a pirated software?    
  • I'm always a bit baffled when people say they pay for Windows. Since Win95 I've always had legitimate, fully licensed Windows for free. Every few years I'll upgrade my PC by buying the components I want and building it myself. Any computer shop will always throw in an OEM copy of Windows for me for free. That's every shop I've ever been to. Windows 8 was the first OS I bought retail through the Microsoft site for $15 during their 6 month offer period.
  • Let's not get crazy. If they do this it would only be for the basic version of Windows, and this would only be for the consumer version. Enterprises would still need to pay for licenses, which is where Microsoft makes the largest portion of their licensing revenue. They would still charge to upgrades to Pro and feature packs. It could work to at least get people to try the OS...
  • Youve got a point. But its like if u keep Windows free then u wont buy office. The main thing is office as its inclusive when someone buys a laptop. Ppl will think they switching to Google drive then.
  • I'd rather pay a upfront base price rather than shelling out cash everytime I need to do something different.
  • let people chose, when you install windows just use it free with no apps or services included, or pay for the OS and have everything covered
  • I was going to say this but saw your post, so I will just agree. Giving consumers a choice opens up possibilities and gives us a say in our lifestyle. This does not seem like a difficult process but may be difficult to get right. What if after choosing, a consumers decides it was a bad choice? Can they change? If so, how will it work? This would be a fun project to develop.
  • I think they should stay as they are, as yes, this would benefit me in many ways if they made it free, but i use Onedrive regularly for my photography, and skype. I don't earn money that easily atm so i wont be able to pay for it, i think ms would gain more profit if they stayed where they are and work on the things they already have, and make them to the standard where the are a big competitor to android and apple...
  • I hate this idea. I would much rather pay once for my OS than get nickled and dimed every month for the services.
  • That's my thing. People all over are trying to lower there monthly spending. A lot only have so much per month to spend. For instance Skype is free bit for one to one. They charge to do multiple people at once. And it works that way. But I won't pay for Skype on a one to one. I honestly think they could sell more paid services though if they lowered there prices some.
  • I hope Microsoft never ever makes Windows free; because that would mean one of two things; they will either jam ads down users throat or they will switch to a subscription system as Office 365; neither of which are a good option for an operating system. If Microsoft continue to innovate I am more than happy to pay $250 every few years for the privilage of using a new Windows OS, but the second Microsoft tries to kill the OS with ads that will be a clear sign its the end of the road and time to look at alternatives. Say NO to FREE Windows. A wise person once said: "If you're not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold." Keep that in mind when you are asking for free stuff.    
  • Good words there at the end.
  • Its funny and somewhat scary to see comments that say 'I want' this or that. MS is competing with others, who have a different way of providing the same services, and they feel they are losing. I'm sure MS would prefer not to do this and give you what you want, but at some point they have to read the writing on the wall and adapt to survive or die. If their business model is going to be the cause of their demise, they have to change.
    I don't see why they can't do both, actually. Pay for the OS, get regular updates as we do now, and get the services for free with ads or get the OS for free, get bulky irregular updates like phones do now, and pay for the services ad free...something like that.
    The article says who would pay for Bing in a Google dominated world...conversely, who would pay for Android, seriously? Google can't change course...MS has options. Just don't screw up WP!
  • Makes sense for the walled garden of Windows RT. not so much for full Win 8
  • Bill gates must have tired of all the money kept unused for years which can make his whole future family live a royal life... ;D
  • He donates 90% of his income. Hes a simple man. Doesnt act to sophisticated with his personality.
  • Dude calm down.. It was just for fun.
  • I would be pissed because I spent $136 on windows 8 and now I would also have to pay for their services...??
  • WinXP had no services and you payed $250+ so I don't see why you should be pissed at paying for Windows 8; the development and support of Windows is not free, as many people like to think of anything software related.    
  • When did I pay for windows XP?? Hahahaha
  • And im pissed cause they would give it for free just when I bought it
  • Nononono no and NO!
  • Promote surface. Microsoft hasnt marketed surfaces very well.
  • What I see is that Microsoft created Windows with Bing for the sole purpose to combat Chromebooks. The OS will be installed on similar devices in response to the sudden rise of the Chromebook in some markets - namely the education sector. There will be versions of Windows that will still be for sale. Plus because it is free, it doesn't mean that you can install the OS in the Enterprise enviroment. Businesses will still have to fork for licenses.
  • Charge for W8 & Pro. Small fee for WP8.x but WinRT free for all. My opinion. Milk the revenue from services for RT and WP8.x/9.
  • In my opinion, this would not work. Especially for rest of the world. As long as Google keeps their services free, Microsoft has to keep theirs free. Otherwise, people will just flock back to Google. In India, for example, I do not think many people care if Google sells their data.
  • I think they should make Windows cheap, not free. I upgraded to Windows 8 for 50€ and I can imagine future upgrades to be around 10-30€ if you have at least Windows 8.
  • The 50eur was an introductory offer for a few month after release; it's not the norm for Windows and it should not be, unless you want to see ads all over the place and have your info sold off.  
  • Why don't they do both? If you buy you get the services for free or deeply discounted, if you don't buy the upfront you get to pay for what you use
  • They just may try to put their prices at 20$ or near.
  • NO WAY
  • DOMO!!!
  • Mac OS X is actually free now, as of 10.9.
  • Apple can do this, since it also makes money on hardware. There are no OEMs.
  • I'd guess we might see subscription-based Windows, like Office. Pay annually and get things like Skype Premium, extra onedrive space, etc and Windows is 'free.'
  • That would possibly be an option if they price it right and have family plans and perhaps have a office 365 bundle. BUT the caveat is people will want support when you got a sub model so a dedicated telephone contact / support centre may be needed unless they repurpose one of their current centres. Also this shouldn't be their only offering, as it would really eat in their profits from windows.
  • That is good if you are in a family situation and can fully utilize the 5 licenses, but it is kind of overpriced for individuals that just need one or two licenses for personal use.  
  • Like Amazon, offer it free with ads or pay a fee to remove them.
  • They are totally missing the point. Its not the price, windows has a reliability problem. Spyware, bloatware, and viruses drive the most people to apple.
  • Most people click anything and that is their fault not Microsoft's. Having repaired countless pcs, from experience most people just don't read and just click next, next next until they complete an install without releasing they have just installed several ad tool bars and the chrome browser in the process lol. Then have nerve to complain how unreliable and slow windows is... Also it helps to have an efficient and decent anti virus + firewall and not install every single application known to humankind set to run at start up :P. The other cause of a slow down is a fragmented file table... You would be surprised the difference that makes especially having the o/s files with lowest seek time possible.
  • Honestly, if it was a strategy with emerging markets in mind or a measure to fight piracy, I'd say they could make some sort of Windows with Bing plus several other Microsoft products cheaper. Not necessarily free, only cheaper. I'm only saying this because I know that in Brazil tons and tons of people uses pirated copies of Windows. Then again, better costumer service and a more efficient and less cumbersome way of dealing with keys and licenses would help. I've seem repeatedly cases of people installing pirated versions of Windows not because they thought the original was too expensive, but simply because it was way more easier and convenient to get a pirated copy and install it, surprisingly. But if the idea is competing with other brand names like Google, then I think it's largely uneeded. Let me first say that I'm not a Google hater by any means, but I also don't think Chromebook is grounds for desperation. Like it or not, it's a limited device. Even if it's cheap, and perhaps lots of people are buying, if Google doesn't invest in it mountains of money, it'll soon be going the netbook way. In fact, Chromebook has tons of things in common with the concept of netbooks. Those who can't even remember them anymore, they were very cheap laptops with Linux that rised to fame as fast as they fell. Because they were limited devices, because they couldn't do what most laptops did. I even remember news and blogs saying that netbooks would be the "death of laptops"... same ones who said the same thing with tablets.  There are only two things I don't want Microsoft to ever go after: 1. a subscription based model for Windows. 2. a crippled subpar version of Windows that's free. For the first one, if it's forced, I'm switching platforms, pure and simple. For the second one, I think the strategy for the future is unifying things, not stratifying. In that sense, I personally think that the next big thing will be unification of platforms among devices. It's what everyone is asking for, and no one delivered just yet. Apple is getting closer, as is Microsoft. But both are lacking in different areas. This is the true race.
  • Agreed. I have absolutely zero interest in a Chromebook. Seems like a perfect example of compromise to the point of being useful for nothing. I'd rather use Windows RT, than a beefed-up browser that tracks me for money :) However, Microsoft and Apple are two completely different businesses. Microsoft should not try to emulate them at all. Apple makes most of its money from selling excellet, expensive devices. Microsoft should want very little of that business model. Creating solid "Surface" devices to act as templates for doing it the right way (much like Google's "Nexus" devices) is great. The model for Microsoft should be to get as many devices out in the wild as possible, then sell premium services once users are hooked. They should also emphasize security to differentiate themselves from the likes of Google. Apple is already viewed as a fairly secure company, but Google will have a very hard time convincing people that they are 100% private on their platform. Too much "free" stuff to contradict that claim for them.
  • I've never paid for windows anyway. When I buy a new pc/laptop/tablet/phone it already comes with the software pre loaded. I worry that the hardware manufacturers will not reduce the price accordingly. Therefore it could end up that we pay more.
  • No do not make it free. Just reduce its price. Unfortunately I am currently using Windows 8.1 Halloweenpsycho *flies away*
  • Seems simple enough to me. Make Windows RT/Phone free (including basic Office, OneDrive, and Skype). Then charge for the "Desktop" app (full Windows experience... maybe have a "Windows 365" subscription), Office 365, OneDrive Pro, and 24/7 technical support (make the vendors handle tech support on free versions). That way people could get into the Windows world and function on basic needs, but would pay a premium for the feature Power Users will require.
  • Fight free with free. Giving away OS for free but they can still make money on apps and other services came with the OS.
  • Look - If MS thinks they are losing, which is debatible - they are surely losing mobile, but the desktop is not leaving the corporate enviroment anytime soon.  They should just give people the option - Pay full price for the OS - 200-300$ for the newest version, or an upgrade fee of 50-100$.  if you pay, you get all of their services such as Onedrive, Skype, and Office for free (they should also integrate adblock into the paid os).  If you cannot afford it, you have the option of getting the "free" - "Bing" version of MS Windows - with add supported everything - similar to how Google slams ads down your throat - expect Bing to do the same.  If they were smart - they would offer the "free" version exclusively to all current windows xp users, they all will be so happy to not pay for it, they will really think that its "free"  
  • They could release a fully fledged free version with ads running throughout the OS...I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole personally, but it's a thought ;)
  • I say make home and student licenses free for windows and office but charge businesses and organizations to maintain profitability. Make profit from home and student users through the store and with hardware and services but give people the option to use the services lightly for free. When people grow to love them, they will pay for more usage and reward MS with praise and brand loyalty.
  • I dont really get this. OneDrive isn't free, only the first 7gb is free. I pay for a few hundred GB on OneDrive. I dont use skype but honestly that needs to keep a free tier as well or someone else will get that marketshare. I think that Windows OS should be maybe $40 for the home version and $60 for Pro. Upgrades should be 1/2 that price and only applicable to the last version in order to keep people current. Keep in mind that Microsoft has a "NEW" revenue stream these days in the form of the Windows Store that they did not have previously. I am not sure that there needs to be an OEM tier anymore. Office365:
    I think Office365 should cost $100/yr for your 5 pc's and include the OS for them. For $150/yr it should include 10 devices for your Family and link to all of your Live Accounts. Ad-Supported? No way jose
  • "Office365:
    I think Office365 should cost $100/yr for your 5 pc's and include the OS for them. For $150/yr it should include 10 devices for your Family and link to all of your Live Accounts." How about a cheper 1 or 2 PC option; not everyone has use for 5 or more licenses.  
  • Id rather pay for the OS and get free services. I don't think MS services would survive if you need to start paying for them, especially Bing. Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • BRB, editing the Hosts file...
  • I don't see this model working for them.... How will they generate any source of revenue? There are so many free alternatives to bing, skype and one drive. Also will it require constant internet to run? Ala chromebooks ugh... Or are they banking on people buying tablets/pcs - the purchase cost of which will pay for the services? I can tell you some of those that's aren't tech savvy are already under misconception windows is free because it comes free with their computer...
  • Perhaps microsoft could make an x86 version of RT that runs Windows Store apps and includes office, but lacks ability to run Desktop apps without an upgrade for a small fee ($20 - $40)?
  • What msft should try to do instead is have an yearly subscription of lets say $99....This should include windows,office (office online including ios and android apps),Skype,Xbox live,Xbox music,onedrive...As long as u have subscription every software will work....if someone doesn't subscribe or renew nothing works...maybe just windows work but they don't get any upgrades
  • Unfortunate. That's a lot of effort to just give away. And those folks unwilling to pay for an OS aren't the types of folks that are willing to pay for ancillary services that might help pay for the OS. Android users are collectively the cheap asses of the tech world. No exactly the types of clients you want to chase after.
  • Why couldn't Windows be a subscription like Office? Free for OEM, but consumers who wish to enter an upgrade subscription pay $5 a month or $49.95 a year for up to 5 installed devices. Buy a new device, remove the old one from your devices list, etc.
  • Michael's Windows 8.1 Screen Shots.. (Off topic) It is interesting to see how other users arrange their Start Screen. I am surprised how many users that have 'information' areas, don't use 'pinned' Internet sites to display the current/updated headlines from web sites.  Even WPCentral's tile updates with the latest stories, so you can see if there is a new content and what the stories are. My Start Screen looks a lot like Michael's with the exception that I have a full 'information' area with several of my favorite web sites pinned so that I can see their latest headlines at a glance.
  • How about free stuff if you buy Microkia or Surface branded devices, and cheaper on other brands
  • There are a lot of benefits to the users and the computing community as a whole. It would mimic subscription services that Enterprise users already take advantage.  This means all consumers would be automatically upgraded to the newest versions of the OS and we wouldn't have the same giant security problems with people using outdated software. In terms of revenue for Microsoft, the costs to write and provide fixes for outdated OSes could make this beneficial to them even if they didn't depend every user buying into a service or using their services.
  • This +100xXP I hated the model with multiple versions... Home, Home Premium, Enterprise, even "pro." several times I purchased off-the-shelf only to have to "upgrade" to "Ultimate" to get features that should have been included in ALL versions. One version across all devices. That is what we need. Why can't it be a subscription that could install in various version...all up to date.
  • As a developer, I'm not sure I like it. For example, my app uses OneDrive as a major component (WP8). If one has to buy access to that, it reduces the appeal of the app by a large degree.
  • Very bad idea to make a gratis OS. That wasn't even the principle of GNU.
  • So if MS goes for a free OS & charges for its services, i wonder how many will be subscription based? Or will it be one time paid?
  • 500 rs sound great instead of free make more titles fr free lik asphalt 8 in store " paid for limited time " then universal price 55  to 100 rs any app
  • Winrt should be free to boost sales and expand windows store while winpro should remain $100 or less, so everyone even in emerging areas like us can afford it. Services must be free, otherwise it's a suicide, no users, and no reason to install windows anymore.
  • I could perhaps see a home use license being free to focus on more consumer adoption and revenue from the services side of the business. I think Business/Enterprise will always need to pay a fee to license Windows as they are using it as a tool for profit and they are less likely to be buying apps through the Store. Even so, I'm not sure it should be completely free, but perhaps a nominal fee, like $25. It would be a massive move to completely wipe out a billion dollar revenue source
  • If you waana charge for onedrive, I dont need it and take away Skype I dont want it.... overall I m happy coz I save lots of bucks
  • Please dont' do this.  I'm fine with paying for an OS with all the features.  I do NOT want a F2P OS... I'll go for linux then.  If you do make it free... please offer a Classic 8 or something along those lines.  I want my OS with no crazy, oddly placed paywalls.  
  • Personally I'd rather pay for great hardware and OS and receive free services.
  • If the OS is free and pay for services (like Google does) then you know that the quality of OS is shitty so they can make money on paid services. But, if the OS is paid and they offer free service (like MS and Apple do) they you know that the OS is of good quality so they would not make to much expenses in servicing their customers. Get the difference? So why oh why Microsoft will follow Google's style?
  • No, not interested in a free Win8 but with paid services.   I would like to pay only a hundred dollars for the full version instead of $199 (and yes I usually get the $50 dollar introductory price version). However with WP 8, I certainly do think they should give it away to OEM's in order to build interest and market share.
  • this is showing a sign that Microsoft is desperately trying to get the Windows 8.1 install base higher. The numbers are there, they do not lie, Windows 8 has not been accepted like Windows 7 or even Windows XP...
  • Opens up a new window of opportunity 
  • I like my costs up front.
  • I think people should be asked a fee to publish comments on this forum.
    Seriously, we need a comment ranking system to downrank usless posts.
  • Until Microsoft starts making actual computers (besides the Surface line), and, like Apple, making a decent markup on their computers, giving Windows away for free doesn't seem like a sustainable option. It may appear Microsoft is transitioning into a more services-oriented company with the new Office 365 model, and Bing, OneDrive, Skype, etc., but underneath all of that is still the Windows operating system, which is distributed abundantly on a plethora of third-party hardware. If they want to make a go of it, I think they would still need to sell licenses to computer manufacturers who would then install the OS on new computers.  They could then, like Apple, give users free updates to the operating system.  But let's keep one thing in mind when comparing this to the Apple model:  We have no idea what Apple will do if they make a major-version release of OSX -- in other words, what happens when OS XI comes out?  Will they charge for that upgrade since it's not just a point-release? For the moment, in my opinion, reducing the license fees is a good way to start.  Let the rest play out over time.