What will you do when you have to pay a subscription for Windows?

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Windows 10Windows 10 is due for release some time late in 2015 and it’s going to disrupt the way that you buy computers forever. You’re going to have to pay an ongoing subscription in order to use the Windows 10 operating system.

Yes that’s right, no longer when you buy a computer will you be buying the operating system, Microsoft intend to rent it to you and if you stop paying your hardware will be rendered useless.

Currently all the Microsoft blurb is trumpeting the fact that upgrading to Windows 10 will be free (for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices). What they’re not shouting about quite as loudly is that it’s free for the first year, but that it’ll actually be a subscription model.

Ever since the first versions of Windows the entire world has been used to paying a Windows licence or buying an OEM version of Windows included for free when you purchased a PC or Laptop. That’s all about to change and Microsoft want to gouge you monthly (or annually) for a Windows subscription.

Microsoft have already moved to a subscription basis for Office 360 which is one of the main reasons I still use my copy of Office 2007. However using a version of Windows that was eight years old would mean I’d be trying to get by on Windows Vista for which support ceased five years ago in 2010. That’s just not a viable position to be in.

We still don’t know if new PCs and Laptops will come with the first year’s Windows 10 subscription included, or if you’ll have to sign up to a direct debit the day you buy your device. What we do know is that the resale value of old hardware will bomb and reselling old hardware will pretty much mean your buyer will have to purchase a subscription if they want to use it.

Tech Republic have run some numbers and estimate that a Windows 10 subscription will set you back $50 per year. Translated to the UK that’ll probably come in at fifty quid a year as traditionally tech companies idea of currency exchange is simply to keep the number and swap the $ symbol for a £ symbol.

Ultimately it’s going to be a pain for the whole world. Occasional computer users are going to be hardest hit. For instance my mother who is in her 70s will have to pay the same for using a Windows 10 computer a couple of times a month as me and I’m probably using a laptop for 8 hours a day or more. Even worse if you run a laptop and a desktop computer as you’ll be paying multiple subscriptions, although Microsoft will probably introduce licence plans for those with multiple devices in the household. Thankfully for mobile users it’s predicted that there’ll be no licence fee for sub 9″ devices.

Which ever way you cut it though, Windows users are going to start paying more and the cost of a new computer will no longer be limited to the price you pay when you make your purchase, that’s unless another suitable mass market operating system comes to the market. Linux hasn’t cracked it and neither has Apple with their Mac offerings. Perhaps Android or the Google Chrome operating system will be the solution, although neither are as robust and ubiquitous as what’s about to become a very expensive reliance on Microsoft Windows.

18 Responses

  1. According to the “source” article at TechRepublic: “Microsoft has yet to reveal the pricing structure for Windows 10 […] The one rumor that seems to carry the most weight is a subscription model”. Yes, it is only speculation, Microsoft has not confirmed this yet.

    Although if they really do this, I’ll switch to Linux when it comes time to upgrade.

  2. I think that this whole idea you think Microsoft are coming up with is bad, not just bad but inaccurate. I know that what Microsoft means by a subscription for windows 10 after its first year means that the operating system will be FREE for its first year and stay free with continued updates for the customers that have it. What they mean is that customers that haven’t got windows 10 already ,after year 1 will have to pay for it.

  3. Only a mug would pay for that. Sadly Joe Soap will. I certainly won’t.

    Anyone who has any knowledge of IT will simply switch to Linux which has been great for years and is totally free and even looks and functions the same. Why pay?

    MS take the piss. Windows 8, 9 and 10 all suck as they have a HUGE overhead running a ton of really crappy, stupid, and mostly useless/irrelevant add ons. MS should launch a v.2 of XP – although old its still by far their best offering yet.

    Long live The Revolution!! 🙂

  4. This sounds sucky, but I’ll wait to see exactly how restrictive it is without subscription. In the case of the current Office 360 it’s basically like using free software – I just an advert on login each time while features are unrestricted.

  5. As you say, it is the occasional user who will suffer if this pans out as you say. It also depends on whether the SW has a time cut off so stops operating, or just doesn’t receive upgrades.

    However new equipment should therefore reduce in price because the manufacturer is no longer having to pay for the licence to install, and is not including the OS in the price of the item. That being the case, if equipment needs upgrading regularly, say every 3 years, I suspect it will not have much net effect. May even spread your outgoings over a longer period instead of upfront.

    Don’t underestimate the abilities of regulatory authorities in US and Europe to start sniffing around, or the ability of the IT market to create a work around

  6. I still own 5 legal copies of Windows XP Pro. when MS decided to stop updates I changed to Windows 8.1 again a legal copy and now they are hopefully going to give 8.1 users a free upgrade (i will keep my fingers on that)failing that if they are contemplating charging an annual fee then they can shove Windows 10 where the sun don’t shine, does anyone wish to buy 5 legal copies of XP Pro.

  7. why the uproar
    its now the industry standard to charge a subscription for software,

    many advertisers on this site do so with no complaints about the way they charge for their product,
    no doubt some even introduced subscription after previously selling their product outright as a one off

  8. we think subscription could be a good thing
    rather than microsoft needing to think up some fantastic new must have feature every few years in order to sell windows software that often just causes complications

  9. This article is extremely wrong.

    They charge a sub for Office 365 (you can’t even get that name right), yes but also allow you to BUY licenses for Office 2013.
    The subscription model for Office 365 means that you get all the latest versions of office as they’re release and a tonne of OneDrive storage and like 5 copies of the software. But nothing is stopping you from buying Office 2013.

    It’s going to be exactly the same for Windows. You can buy a license, or you can buy a sub, which basically would mean you’ll never have to put money down for a Windows license and there will be a tonne of perks too. Not allowing people to buy a single license would be suicide.

    Furthermore, they have said countless times, and even have it on their website that the free upgrade within the first year is forever. You don’t have to pay after the year, It is yours for good. Jesus, just read the offer details on their site – they explicitly say that you won’t pay.


    Fact check before you start to spiral, people.

  10. AS MUCH AS I LIKE WINDOWS THE MOMENT THEY CHARGE A SUBSCRIPTION FOR IT IM OUT. Its just that simple. I don’t think they will at this stage cause they need more people to join the platform so it would be a terrible pr move, oh wait ive changed my mind, they might actually do it this year lol.

  11. Well looks like they are going to give direct advantage to apple since apple is giving free upgrades to every idevice and mac for now. And maybe google will introduce android for pc. Seems like Microsoft is going to the Nokia’s fate.

  12. .
    I wonder how much a new PC or laptop will drop in price, when you have to pay for a licence….?

  13. We have been using Office 360 subscription for 3 years now and i think its worth the £79.00 per year for 5 licenses.

    Compared against buying the programmes outright it saves me money over the lifetime of the product and when we change a PC, changing the licence is very simple.

    The cloud storage it gives me is more than enough for my needs and all our files are now stored there.

    Although i am not a regular user of skype, when i do want to use it, the free 60 mins a month is more than enough.

    I much prefer the subscription model and i am finding that some of the other programmes we use are switching to this type of model.



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