Windows 10 Pricing Revealed, and it isn’t Pretty

I seriously cannot believe some of Microsoft’s recent decisions – removing basic features such as DVD playback from Windows 10, no longer insisting on an option to disable secure boot, compulsory automatic updates – and now the company has revealed its Windows 10 pricing policy we can also add that to the list.

Yes, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for eligible users during the initial year following its release but after that, any new users will be required to pay $119.00 for Windows 10 Home and a whopping $199.00 for the Pro edition. And, of course, ineligible users, those who are still running XP or Vista, plus anyone else who wants a copy of Windows 10, will have to pay through the nose. To continue retail sales at such unrealistically high prices appears to be totally at odds with the company’s vision of a service-centric, cloud-connected future for Windows.

This does not make sense on so many levels. I’ve been saying for some time now that Microsoft is keen on getting as many users as possible on the same platform, this is just fiscal logic, but this decision flies in the face of that premise and is simply not a financially sound one. Revenue derived from retail sales of Windows pales into insignificance when compared to flow-on opportunities, and the market share metric plays a crucial role in how and where developers, advertisers, and consumers invest their resources.

I honestly cannot see a downside to Microsoft making Windows 10 free for any and all consumers who want it, plus there are huge upsides to getting as many people using Windows 10 as possible. In an era where most all major operating systems are free – including OS X, iOS, and Android for existing users, plus untold numbers of Linux distributions – why on earth Microsoft would place a monetary disincentive in the way of people who want Windows 10 is beyond me.

The fact of the matter is that, following the Windows 8 debacle, many traditional Windows users have become disenchanted with Microsoft’s approach – as is clearly suggested by Windows 8/8.1 poor adoption rates:

With substantial numbers of disenchanted users already looking at viable (and free) alternatives, I would have thought it would be in Microsoft’s best interests to try and reverse the trend rather than providing further incentive for even more to possibly join the exodus. Consumers flock to free and increased market share exponentially expands revenue opportunities, these are proven concepts, yet ones which Microsoft apparently fails to grasp.

Message to Microsoft: Forget about expensive retail sales and make Windows 10 free for everyone. Setup a webpage where people can sign up using a Microsoft account (which would entice more people into your ecosystem) to get a free license key and download an ISO. Then sit back and watch in wonder as your new operating system’s market share booms.

It ain’t rocket science folks.


25 thoughts on “Windows 10 Pricing Revealed, and it isn’t Pretty”

  1. Could not agree more! I think they may be forced to go there and hope it’s not too late when they do. They seem to still think that brand loyalty is still a thing and that it works for them. It might, for a while but soon they will discover how wrong they were. Hope it doesn’t come too later and cost them everything!

  2. “ineligible users, those who are still running XP or Vista, plus anyone else who wants a copy of Windows 10, will have to pay through the nose”

    The way I see it, those that are still on XP and Vista could have gotten the upgrades to 7 , 8 or 8.1 on the cheap when they were available, but they chose not to yet they chose to sit and snub their noses and degrade an OS that Microsoft had no other choice BUT to make good on. Whether or not they chose install or use the upgrades, it would have saved them in the long run now that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for those on 7, 8 and 8.1.

    The pricing you have listed above really do not differ all that much from 7 Home Premium and Professional though.

    1. I paid $99 for the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade for 3 pc’s and got Windows 8 for $40 when it was made available and of course 8.1 was a free upgrade.

      Now don’t get me wrong I didn’t like 8 when it first arrived, the upgrade to 8.1 made the OS bearable but I knew that Microsoft had to do something to satisfy it’s customers and distance itself from 8 and 8.1 sooner or later ……… well, it’s sooner.

    2. The pricing you have listed above really do not differ all that much from 7 Home Premium and Professional though

      Agreed Ed. However, the landscape has changed dramatically since then. Windows 7 was (is) a very popular OS and Microsoft was riding high. Since Windows 8 however, MS’s standing has plummeted and the company needs to respond accordingly.

      Also, Microsoft’s end game is to get everyone on the same platform and placing a financial obstacle in the way of anyone who wants Windows 10 is totally at odds with that goal.

  3. Since when OS-X and iOS are free? LOL!! User have to buy Apple Hardware for an extensive high cost for to get it, it’s simply an needed part of Apple Hardware which couldn’t work without it!
    Have you ever try to go into an Apple Shop or request online Apple’s OS-X and/or iOS to hand over to you without to show that you own an Apple Device which could play that OS, or tell them you like to use OS-X on an normal, not Apple PC?
    Try that and Good Luck with it!!

    In fact there’ll be million’s of users which just getting Windows 10 for free! I not speak about those who using any pirated older version! That’s the serious user’s of older Windows versions of the last 3 Windows generations who’ll benefit form that! Talking and shouting about those Vista and even XP user’s, which would not benefit for the Microsoft Offer, is just something I wouldn’t expect from someone which an normal education, special not an Journalist!
    Microsoft isn’t an company which works with no profit! Microsoft as a Company has the obligation for to create income to be able to pay it’s ten’s of thousand’s employees! It also has to pay an huge amount of Tax to the Government, etc. etc.!

    Get real Mr. Journalist! Also you get paid for to write such reports which many times just based on rumors! Rumors spread by people like you! As an serious Journalist you should have at least post and linked your report to the source from where you got those information which is called “Fair Use”, an regulation about Copyright and also to give credit to those you got you infos from!

    1. All operating systems need hardware to run them, the vast majority of PCs are purchased with Windows pre-installed. What you are saying is nonsense.

      Methinks it may be you who needs to get real!

      Based on rumors“? The information about pricing comes direct from Microsoft and is public knowledge. The rest is merely my own opinion, emanating directly from within my own brain – a concept which would no doubt be quite foreign to you.

  4. There might be 3 more things about the prices fuss. first Microsoft may need more money from Windows 10 and if they release it as a free OS then they may get into financial problems in the future, second is they might be thinking that if people pay 200$ for a pro edition then they will get life time updates and features from Microsoft forever and that might justify the high prices. third, anyone participating in Windows insider program or even download and install Windows 10 preview and boot it up virtually in a free VM program just to sign up for the insider program, then they can get a free Windows 10 license.

    Still the prices are high and they could have made Windows 10 as a service so people could pay a monthly fee to use Windows ( which is totally weird, it’s not a software but an OS). they had thought they could put an end to Windows pirating and they failed. one way or another people continue using Windows because of its compatibility with hardware, software, games etc.

    1. Jason, according to Wikinvest, Microsoft’s total worth is up round $177 billion, I seriously doubt the company would “get into financial problems”.

      Plus, as I said in the article, revenue opportunities abound relative to adoption rates and market share, this is where the real dollars can be made.

  5. Microsoft appears to have a severe deficiency of street smarts. Microsoft needs to fire the person in charge and replace him with someone who lives in the real world, not the techie world. At the rate at which Microsoft is launching OS’s that people in the real world don’t want, it will go the way of GM (which went from selling a majority of cars bought in the US to selling a plurality) and AOL. GM’s turnaround began with hiring as its CEO someone from outside the automobile industry several years ago. Microsoft should do the same.,

  6. MS are rewarding loyal paying customers with a free upgrade.
    Retail prices may be high but hopefully OEM prices for the OS on new systems will be far more reasonable.
    In many countries, new and refurbished PCs and notebooks are openly sold in computer shops loaded with a hacked version of XP to home users and small businesses – it is not just the odd ‘hacker’ in his bedroom! If they actually bought the OS, MS would not have to charge the rest of us so much!

  7. The only think keeping me in the Windows segment is the fact that the one program I can’t live without will only run on windows.

    If a linux distro ever comes out with an emulator that actually work out of the box – ones that want command line knowledge by definition don’t – I will change to Linux.

    Even with the need for my pet program, I just might change anyway if the purchase price becomes a yearly fee.

    I am sure that I am not the only competent computer user who is not a tech-head who thinks the same.

    On the ‘Windows FREE’ option, there would have to be a profit somewhere for Microsoft and I personally like to see it on the label of the OS rather than being fed adverts or whatever by Microsoft.

    Thanks for the info, as always accurate and up to date.


    P.S. I also HATE having to use android on my tablet and detest Windows 8 and 8.1 unless tamed by classic shell…..

  8. The pricing doesn’t surprise me and of course it increases the value of the free upgrade. Realistically relatively few people buy retail copies of windows – most get it as an OEM with their computer/laptop and probably dont upgrade within the “life” of the machine (2-4 years!!). The people mostly affected will be the small number who build their own computers. Large businesses will have a discounted price, the education section gets MS software dirt cheap so the retail sales are a small part of the business and setting a highish price on this makes it look more valuable to the majority who are getting it free or at a substantial discount.

    For me the loss of media player is a non-issue I have only ever once initialised the beast and quickly decided there were better free options around – currently I like Media Player Classic which is really the original windows player before they started adding unecessary bells and whistles to try and compete with the, equally awful, itunes. I know how to catalogue and store files and I know how to transfer them to my various devices so really dont need a custom program to mess this up for me. Even the media server functions are better provided by other free tools such as Serviio, Plex etc.
    The automated update is only an issue for the home edition and it, probably correctly, assumes that most home users are not technically savvy. From what I can see in the preview you are able to delay and even schedule when the computer will carry out an update – or let it just pick a time when the computer is inactive.
    The missing opt out for the secure boot will be a pain for people who want to dual boot with another system but I am sure the communities will quickly find a work around – personally I prefer running linux in a virtual PC which is much more flexible giving you instant access to both systems without rebooting.

    1. We are not talking about the loss of Media Player but of Media Center. I have used and still use Windows Media Center like a DVR and program and record TV shows for future viewing. MS states it will offer DVD playback in future updates but I can get DVD playback with VLC player but VLC player doesn’t work quite like Windows Media Center.
      Since I build my own PC’s I have always invested in retail copies of Windows. Why? Because I am always trying to find the perfect match in software to run my PC. You might be surprised in what I really prefer.
      As for pricing their is not much difference than their was several years ago when I bought my copy of XP Pro or Vista Ultimate, Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 8 Pro were the best bargains. Their are still a lot of users on Vista in my area and if MS really wanted users to move to W10 then the free upgrade should have at least included Vista.
      Doesn’t really matter to me, I have two PC’s, one running W8.1 and one running W7 HP and neither one will get the W10 free upgrade.

  9. Great article. Given the problem with forced updates and some of us with “pay by the MB internet connections”, that alone is a deal breaker for me. I use 8.1 and am happy with it. My machine is 2 years old and will most likely need to be replaced before MS stops updating 8.1, I will not upgrade. Add to that no ISO download available, what? What happens if the update process goes badly, or you have to R&R the OS someday, you will be forced to buy Win 10. I think not. 8.1 does what I need an OS to do, and when this machine dies, I will switch to Apple.

  10. Stu Mountjoy

    Thank you for your article Jim – I find it ironic that I am part of a Learning Centre, teaching and demonstrating Windows 10 (insider preview), to show people what it is like – while news about Microsoft making some strange decisions flood in, LOL. And the good ol’ Netshare diagram, of global share of Windows (and others, Mac, Linux etc) operating systems on computers, good for a laugh.

  11. I believe they’re doing just that, at least initially- ya all come now; get on board. We won’t be able to play videos? They’ve got to be kidding. This needs more of an explanation. I don’t really believe it. Really, a PC without a CD/DVD drive, or one that the O.S. won’t operate? If this is true, M.S. needs to climb out of that big ivory tower they’re living in and come down to earth where the market is. I am eligible for the upgrade where some control over new M.S. updates are allowed; hurray for that. However, it looks like Windows7 will be my primary OS, unless I’m eventually driven to Linux. Thanks M.S. for this freebie and for welcoming me into the company store.

  12. Dennis Becker

    OS X, iOS, Android are definitely not free. Their costs are bundled with the cost of the very expensive hardware that uses these OSs. The costs for Windows 10 seems to be a bit on the high side but the OEM prices will likely be a fraction of the costs quoted in the article. I am grateful that MS will make Windows 10 available to those that have a reasonable current version of Windows for no cost. For those of us with current versions of Windows, the upgrade is free. I suspect that MS wants to get all Windows users on the same version. Rather than supporting multiple versions of Windows, it greatly simplifies things if they only have to support one version. So for probably hundreds of millions of people the upgrade is free.

    1. To existing customers, OS X, iOS, and Android upgrades are definitely free.

      On the other hand, existing Windows customers who do not upgrade during the initial 12 months will have to pay big dollars for the privilege.

  13. I would happily pay $200 for an OS as good and as customizable as XP was. Win7 started taking away options and adding irritations. After that Microsoft moved farther and farther from anything I liked. I don’t buy new things just because they are new, or because other people are excited about them.

    Microsoft wants to run THEIR OS, on MY system, controlling all the processes and making changes, via the force-feeding of updates and gods only know what else, at will. I don’t like that idea. AND I think the OS is ugly. I ain’t paying a dime for it.

  14. Mr.Hillier,
    My question is would agree that to wait awhile is a good idea?Or should we go ahead and do the upgrade when it’s released?
    I’ve signed up for it both on my Win7 Home Premium and my new pc Win7Pro…am not sure what to do about upgrading it.
    Thank you for any advice,

    1. Dixie,
      I am not trying to answer for Jim but I have been in the Insider Program since October and have been running the W10 Tech Preview since then. I too have two desktop PC’s, one running W7HP and W8.1Pro, I can’t see either one of these PC’s being upgraded to W10.
      Why, is because I can’t find not one logical reason to overwrite either OS.
      To be fair W10 does boot faster and is more nimble and it may have some desirable features that may be attractive for some users especially if you have a touch oriented PC or you wish to speak to Cortana to search for you.
      Bottom line Dixie, is I would wait and see how this upgrade goes for other users and then make that decision. Daniel.

    2. Hi Dixie,

      Some say to wait for a while before upgrading so that any minor bugs will have been sorted out. I say, if you are keen to upgrade to Windows 10, go for it. Whatever bugs there might be will be rectified via updates anyway.

      Cheers… Jim

  15. I am going to give Windows 10 a year to prove itself. The “features” you mentioned are very good reasons to be wary and I am. If, after the year, Windows 10 has shown that Microsoft is interested in giving customers common respect, getting rid of forced upgrades, restoring some basic features, restoring aero so we don’t look like a bunch of kindergarteners playing with our brightly colored blocks AND ESPECIALLY keeping the upgrade free then I will consider “upgrading” from Windows 7 to 10.

    However, I’m planning for the worst, already dual booting Ubuntu and checking out the various GUIs that are suddenly available. Imagine! If you don’t like the GUI that comes with Ubuntu, you just download another and try it out. You can even switch back and forth every time you boot up!

    Imagine booting up Windows 8.1, saying “I really hate this GUI. I want it to look like Windows XP” and ACTUALLY BEING ABLE TO DO THAT. That is where Linux is now and has been for at least 15 years. That is how far behind Windows is.

    With cloud computing it won’t matter what operating system you are using. $50 Windows 10 is not better than free Ubuntu or other Linux. I can see that already. So we wait and see. Maybe Microsoft has lost the will to live?

  16. May I second the motion in your message to Microsoft: Haven’t we Vista users suffered long enough and shouldn’t your generous gift of Win 10 to Win 7 & 8 users be extended to (especially) us as well?

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