Would You Pay a Subscription for Windows


Speculation surrounding the possibility of Microsoft introducing a subscription based option for Windows 10 has been doing the rounds for quite some time. We even wrote about it way back in 2014: Subscription Based Windows OS – Is It On The Cards?

Now, it seems, Microsoft has taken the first step in this direction by offering a subscription based Windows 10 option to enterprise consumers. On Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed that it will be offering Windows 10 Enterprise E3, a special enterprise tier of Windows 10, which will cost $7 per user per month.

ms annoucement - re subscriptions

This makes good sense for enterprise users as it guarantees an always current operating system across the board – no huge upgrade bills – plus a degree of management assistance. It’s a good deal for Microsoft too, not only ensuring that enterprise users are all on the same page but also generating a predictable and perpetual income stream.

The question is, will a similar type of subscription based Windows also be introduced for home users at some time down the track? My guess is that it is quite likely, although purely as an option rather than the only choice. The biggest likely difference being a fee per device rather than per user. I’d also assume that, because it wouldn’t include any sort of management component, the fee for home consumers would be considerably less.

Unanswered Questions

question mark-green

One aspect of a subscription model for home consumers that concerns me is; once the provider (in this case Microsoft) has established a viable user base, what’s to prevent them from increasing the fees.


  • At what point does the contract, and by association the terms of the contract, expire and renew?
  • What steps will Microsoft take if a user defaults on payment?

This excerpt from the Office 365 subscription terms and conditions:

office 365-t and c

However, an operating system is a whole different proposition to an Office application.

I am not a fan of subscription based software, never have been and never will be. I, for one, will definitely not be interested in any sort of subscription option. What about you?

 

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About the Author

Jim Hillier

Jim is the resident freeware aficionado at DCT. A computer veteran with 30+ years experience who first started writing about computers and tech back in the days when freeware was actually free. His first computer was a TRS-80 in the 1980s, he progressed through the Commodore series of computers before moving to PCs in the 1990s. Now retired (aka an old geezer), Jim retains his passion for all things tech and still enjoys building and repairing computers for a select clientele... as well as writing for DCT, of course.

28 Comments

  1. I guess the W10 “free upgrade” will eventually be the W10 “fee upgrade”. Who would have ever thought MS would even consider this option.

    • Considering what MS has pulled getting/hoodwinking users of earlier Windows OSs, this should not be surprising. I would not be surprises if the TOS allows MS to raise the monthly fee at will (once it reaches a critical number of users).

  2. For me. it would be time to change over to Linux.

    I have tried it and the only problem has been that there is no (really functional) emulator for a couple of programs that don’t have Linux versions.

    Herself has already gone over to Libre Office from MS Office due to the extortionate monthly fees and/or purchase price of the branded version.

    With faster processors and bigger memory, generic products are becoming just as functional as the brand leaders.

    Microsoft’s plan seems to resemble IBM’s ‘strategy’ with DOS and if they don’t wake up and smell the coffee they will end up as another Big Blue.

    $84 per person per year isn’t cheap, even if it is the base price for micro-businesses.

  3. Yes, me too, never subscribe, unless a REALLY low fee. like £1 to £5 (MAXIMUM) per year. (which it will never be)
    Basically its renting and who would want to rent your operating system, which is basically a “middle man” to run REAL software!!

    Only way it could possibly work, if you decided to stop paying, then you continue to use at your current state of upgrade. Like a maintenance rental.
    I could see this coming a mile off, why would Microsoft ever give anything away…. ever!

    I would still be on XP, if I could have got a driver for my new graphics card (a few years back). I am on Windows 7, with not not giving me ANYTHING over XP which is useful, And Windows 8, I have a Win8 tablet and never use it, I would love to make it Android.

  4. This, amongst other reasons, is why I said NO to the “free upgrade” to Win 10. Along with forced updates for everyone, I decided to stay on Win 8.1 and 7 till they either expire, or the laptops are done. Then I’ll buy a MAC.

  5. I pretty much avoid MS products whenever possible. If they want me to pay ongoing fees for their os I will look elsewhere.

  6. This would be very bad for the pc sector. Many home users are gamers and this strategy would and probably will kill the pc age. (More or less)Most gamers upgrade their hardware regularly and this could push them towards consoles. I’m a gamer and thought pc would be a better place cause what is going on in the console world. But now I’m thinking I was wrong. If Microsoft really does that I will reconsider for upgrading my hardware! I rather buy an new console every 5 years or so then to pay for an additional fee per month(which could be raised at any moment)! Microsoft don’t do this! Gamers will punish you and they probably will buy a PlayStation instead of your xbox! At least I will! ✌

  7. You mean Microsoft isn’t making enough money already. The poor guys. I’m guessing I’m going to have to learn how to use a Mac then. I’ll tell them exactly where they can stick their fees!!

  8. no, i would not favor having a fees impose on windows 10. i am not a business however those guys have thousands if not millions and they asking for a fee to use windows 10?!!
    If you remember when windows came out, every new computer that you bought had some kind of windows on it its like fee stuffing stuffing it to you whether you like it or not.

  9. I have been ready for the last 10 years but everything I dealt with, schools, colleges, government, etc required a windows operating system. I am just about ready to unplug from everything that wants money.

  10. I am already leaning heavily towards moving to a Mac for my next computer. I am definitely going to be cancelling my ‘subscription’ to Microsoft 365 as soon as I can find out what happens to all my documents when I do. I don’t mind a one-time small fee for software like WinPatrol, but ‘renting’ an OS is ridiculous 🙁

  11. I would tend to pay for good programs that work – like XP, etc. If I got a computer with Windows 8, and did not like it, I would ask for my money back.

  12. I wonder if this could be the incentive Google needs to expand Android into a desktop operating system. With tablets, not that far off now.

  13. Agree with Jon about moving to Linux. Or even biting the bullet and going to Apple OS-x.

    I retrograded all my computers from Windows 8.1 to Windows 7 Home. And I wouldn’t touch Windows 10 with a ten-foot pole. So, when MS stops supporting Win-7, I’ll be leaving anyway…

  14. I upgraded to windows 10 when it was more or less forced upon me. While it seemed to be trouble free for a few months it has suddenly become extremely unstable. Despite applying “fixes” and running file checkers etc the event viewer spews different errors on every start up. Windows XP that they have abandoned was never this bad. Asking for a subscription for such an unstable system is immoral.

    • @Matt, did you try doing a clean install of Win 10, that often irons out most of the wrinkles. however I agree entirely with your sentiments about the MS subscription route. rest assured I for one will NOT buy into that subscription model any time soon.imho the only “innovation” MS ever made was the shady practice of extend, embrace, extinguish. as the old saying goes , a leopard never changes its spots.

      • Hi Shaun, thanks for your suggestion. I think it’s about the only option available to me now. It’s very frustrating though because I had to do the same with Windows 8.1 which was eventually almost trouble free until the Windows 10 upgrade. I use my PC for music production which involves having a lot of software plugins. Having to re-install these again is a nightmare especially when they are reset to their default values. Oh well, I suppose it’s grin and bear it time again. Thanks once again for your suggestion.

  15. absolutely no way would I allow myself to be locked into a subscription based model. doing so (especially with an operating system) has some potentially disastrous consequences.

    Suppose your subscription payment does not clear for some reason outside your control. MS decide to lock access to your os, you have software on your system that cannot be run outside of Windows. unless your payment is eventually cleared you are effectively stuck unless you have access to an alternative os that can run software that is compatible with that which you now cannot access..

    Now that Microsoft have”partnered” with Canonical( the company behind Ubuntu Linux), it is likely that this subscription model will be extended beyond the Windows platform to include Linux distributions.

    A tactic that will be very tempting to MS and others is random remote verification( it already happens with some software). in this scenario , whenever you use a MS product that is covered by the subscription model. at some point the software rings home with a status code which is checked at the Microsoft end( or whatever vendors end), if a conflict occurs then your software stops running or runs with reduced functionality until the”error” is corrected.

    additionally with the increased prevalence of ransom ware Microsoft are potentially setting their customers up for a nasty fall, and by extension themselves.

    Additionally we should not discount the possibility of increased piracy leading to users computers becoming infected with goodness knows what unpleasant nasties. secure boot will not remain secure ad infinitum it will get compromised, there is no maybe about it.

    • I can’t see them trying to charge a subscription for any Linux distro period. First, being FOSS and second, there are so many free distros, users would jump to another. Personally, I am an ex-Ubuntu user – it left me after Ubuntu 10.10. I am now fine with Linux Mint with MATE and Windows 7.

      BTW, I commented on your “lock-down” in a separate post.

  16. Told ya so.

    I knew it would happen, and now it is starting. In answer to the question, no. I will stick with Win7 and my lovely XP. Eventually I will need something to access the internet so I can pay bills, deal with banking, and research, but it won’t be Windows 10.

  17. Interesting to see Jon and Bill”s comments. I just finished the transition to PCLinuxOS the other day on my laptop and i52500K 8 ram 64 bit PC with 3 hard drives. I did fearing I could not afford the data for the forced updates. I still have W10 on one drive and a cloned W7 on another always offline for my wife to Photoshop. I prefer Linux as well as Firefox over Edge. At 81 with barely a dozen years of computer use I pulled it off so I’m sure many others would find it easy. It took me some months and a kaleidoscope of screw ups but that’s learning. My Linux reads the Windows drives and opens the files and then there is a whole community out there to help on their forum.

    • Hey Bob – Linux has certainly gotten a lot easier over the years, good on you for giving it a go – nothing ventured, nothing gained.

      Appreciate your comment, always good to hear from the… shall we say… ‘more mature’ users in our community.

  18. While Shaun addressed getting locked down by missing a monthly payment, I would take it one step further. What if those who don’t buy in on the monthly subscription. Would MS (with all the telemetry and other built-in hooks) be nasty enough to lock up the OS period if one did not choose to pay a monthly subscription?

    BTW, I could see them doing the same thing to Windows 8 and 7 users with a “vital security update” that just happens to include code to either force Windows 10 or include the appropriate hooks to lock up the system. Maybe by then, ReactOS will be a decent replacement or WINE on Linux.

  19. To BobC: So far I’ve found no need for Windows programs. If I want something I Google for inf. and then open Synaptic and search the repository which gives info. on anything available as well as if it should happen to be installed. When you decide, you have it in seconds without worrying about custom install to avoid a garbage dump.

    I cut my computer teeth on Pinnacle Studio and later PShop Prem. to do HD. It along with Elements is safely on the offline Win7 clone drive as well as 10 on the hijacked precloned 7 drive. I’m sure PCLinuxOS would have something close to Prem. as they have Gimp for Elements. I chose it much by accident and is considered most similar to Windows. I erred initially by installing Full Monty and discovered my limited data could not maintain it. On forum advice I am now in Minime which can be added to for a custom build.

    Linux is a free software Disneyland but I would advise some annual donation.

    • I agree, Bob – Linux is the way forward.

      Until recently I just had to have Windows as (big kid confession time) I am a Civilization addict.

      A couple of months back I noticed that they had released a Linux version.

      Then there’s the release of the new Civ this autumn.

      I think it’s time for dual boot again and possibly Windows will be gone permanently.

      BTW. I tried Wine a few years ago when Civ was listed as supported – it didn’t work and it’s a case of once bitten twice shy.

      Jon

  20. A lot of people saying they’d move from Windows to mac. With mac you’re paying for the os really, as macs can be very expensive. I think the whole service idea will be like office 360. Maybe a free OS but extra stuff as subscription e.g. pay so much a month for a spotify music service, pay so much a month for a monthly game service.