Free Windows 10…For a Year?
If you’re following any of the tech news happening today, then I’m sure you’ve heard something about Microsoft’s Windows 10 event. We’re seeing some cool things coming into focus as more user features are being displayed. The Continuum interface calms the conflict that involves touch screens versus keyboards and mice, Cortana is integrated into everything, and the Spartan browser is looking like it’s going to do some great things for web browsing, but the one bit of news that keeps popping up is the free version of Windows 10 for 7, 8 and 8.1 users. This seems like great news, but I keep sniffing a trap here.
Seriously, am I the only one here who feels like the phrase, “for a year” is a very bad sign? In all honesty, I know I’m not the only one, but I do want to share my cautions with the computing community since nobody likes to be blind-sided. A few months back, rumors came out that Microsoft might be looking into a subscription model with the release of Windows 10. The thing was, there wasn’t a whole lot evidence to substantiate that rumor back then and consumers always hope that dissatisfaction with particular announcements cause companies to rethink their stance and sweep things under the rug. However, with the announcement that Windows 10 will only be free for a year makes it very hard to imagine that this will fit in with anything but a subscription fee. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is very possible that the days of buying an OS one time until your next upgrade or computer are going to be gone for good.
But let’s not end on an entirely bad note here. A new OS from Microsoft generally runs in the range of $100-$140. If we take a rough estimate that the average computer builder will keep a system for around 3-5 years before he/she upgrades the OS, then we would be looking at around a $20-$50 range per year cost of OS ownership. I would say that if Microsoft can keep Windows 10 at less than $50 per year, that being the absolute highest value that I personally think is doable, then the subscription plan wouldn’t be that bad. While $20-$30 per year would be ideal, if Microsoft tried to pull a $99 fee each year, then consumers would be in a very, very bad position.
All being said, when Microsoft came out with Office 365, the annual fee was $99. That’s roughly a fifth of the cost of previous versions if you didn’t have something like the student edition. If Satya Nadella keeps this same sort of pricing structure for Windows 10, when considering how much effort is being put into the OS this time around, I would think the subscription fee would be well worth the value of the product. Right now all we can do is keep our fingers crossed. I plan on covering more info about Windows 10 once the event is over, but until we know an exact pricing structure, I refuse to get over excited about free “for a year!”
Update: It seems we may have some good news thanks to PCGamer asking some questions for clarification. Windows 10 is supposed to be a free upgrade for those who already have 7, 8 or 8.1, but only during it’s first year of availability. It was also clarified that Microsoft would NOT be going to a subscription model for services and updates, which strongly implies the one time purchase.