At some point, speculating about what will become quickly obvious is difficult. Still, on the cusp as we are of the release of the first preview of what may be called Windows 9, it’s reasonable to take a few notes of the latest rumor cycle: Will Windows 9 be free?
Current gossip indicates that for Windows 8 and Windows XP users, the new code could be in the case of the former, free, and in the case of the latter, cheap.
Both are reasonable ideas: Windows 8 users have already paid for a recent copy of Windows — either through their OEM, or directly — and thus to provide them with a cheap or free copy of the operating system that may greatly improve their computing experience is sensible, and not forward-revenue expensive; those users are not really in the market for a new, full-priced operating system.
In the case of Windows XP, Microsoft remains hellbent to get users of that OS, now vulnerable due the end of formal support for the software, onto something more stable. And since it won’t be Windows 8, as we have learned over these past few years, then, well, what comes next will have to do.
Microsoft has made recent efforts to make Windows free for some. If you buy a small device, with a screen size of 9 inches or less, either phone or tablet, Windows is free. That’s a change. And so to see Microsoft potentially make part of its soul zero-cost to a certain subset of its current userbase that are not, as it were, near-term sources of new Windows incomes, is not, as potential goes, too surprising.
Microsoft cannot afford to make Windows free to all, at once. Incomes from OneDrive, the Windows Store, and the like must mature first, granting the company revenue flexibility to be more drastic in a business model sense when it comes to its operating system.
Whatever the case, we’ll have a good first look at Windows in short order. And if Microsoft fails to show enough, it will be to its own detriment.
Steps are good, but when you need a leap, no iterative hop will make it across the chasm.