A source close to the story says that Microsoft is considering selling Windows in a similar way to how it currently sells Office 365; free basic software with a selection of optional, paid features, according to the Times of India.
Windows to become a freemium product?
The major change looks set to be that Windows and Office may both become freemium products, and there is existing evidence of this strategy. OneNote is to be free on all platforms, Windows 10 is set to be a free upgrade for everyone and Office 365 Pro Plus is bundled with extra features.
Although a Microsoft spokesperson claimed that the company business model was not changing in relation to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), that leaves open the possibility for change with individual customers. Big companies may continue to negotiate deals with Microsoft for continued use and upgrades of software, but for consumers things could become very different.
Microsoft marketing chief Chris Capossela spoke at the company’s Convergence conference last week, and seemed to outline a strategy which involves giving out the basic software for free before working out which features consumers are willing to pay for.
Microsoft changing consumer and enterprise strategy
The company has also started to talk about Windows as a Service, an interesting piece of terminology. Windows 10 will not only be a free upgrade, it will continue to evolve, with new features delivered as and when they are ready rather than in a new major release.
You may be wondering how this fits with the enterprise model, in which clients pay to renew their Windows contracts approximately every 3 years. It would be surprising if companies continued to pay for something that consumers were getting for free without kicking up a fuss.
With that in mind, Microsoft is reconsidering the package of services that it will offer to enterprise customers. Although they will continue to pay, Windows Software Assurance will provide them with extra goodies and support for enterprise grade solutions.
If we add up the public pronouncements from Microsoft spokespeople and the persistent whispering of insiders, there is a reasonable body of evidence which suggests that a major change could be on the horizon with the arrival of Windows 10.