The subscription monetization model is coming to Windows 10. It fits Microsoft's plan to eventually license all software as a service! For now Windows will be sold as a subscription only to enterprise customers. For consumers, it remains a "free service". But it is quite possible that some day Windows 10 will require a subscription fee for consumers too.
Microsoft has officially announced their subscription plans. The software giant explained that subscriptions will initially be applicable to businesses only. Consumers can continue to get Windows by paying the cost upfront. The official announcement claims the following:
Today, we are announcing Windows 10 Enterprise E3 in CSP. Starting this fall, businesses can get enterprise-grade security and management capabilities at just $7 a seat per month for the first time through the Cloud Solution Provider channel.
According to Microsoft, key features of the subscription model are as follows:
- Increased Security: Offering the sophisticated security features of Windows 10 to help businesses secure sensitive data and identities, help ensure devices are protected from cybersecurity threats, give employees the freedom and flexibility to access sensitive data on a variety of devices, and help ensure controlled access to highly-sensitive data.
- Simplified Licensing & Deployment: Helping businesses lower up-front costs, eliminating the need for time-consuming device counting and audits, and making it easier to stay compliant with a subscription-based, per-user licensing model. This new offering allows businesses to easily move from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Enterprise E3 without rebooting.
- Partner-managed IT: Configuring and managing devices by a partner experienced in Windows 10 and cloud deployments. Partners can also help businesses develop a device security and management strategy with the unique features of Windows 10. Businesses can view subscriptions and usage for Windows 10 Enterprise, and any other Microsoft cloud services purchased, in their partner portal for easier management with one contract, one user account, one support contact, and one simplified bill.
So, with a price of $7 per month per user, businesses will pay $84 per user annually for a baseline Windows 10 subscription. Microsoft is going to release extended subscription plans which will include anti-virus protection and other features. However, prices are not available yet.
Microsoft has already used the subscription model for Office 365. It looks like people are willing to license the Office suite via a subscription. In fact, Office 365 is already sold as a subscription to consumers too! So now the operating system will also follow this model.
As for consumers, after July 2016, current Windows 10 license costs are expected to be:
- $119 for Windows 10 Home
- $199 for Windows 10 Pro
If Windows 10 subscriptions are a success with businesses, Microsoft might bring them to consumers too. So don't be surprised if some day you have to pay continuously for Windows just like you pay for your internet or electricity. If the operating system becomes a subscription, every other app will follow suit and can start requiring monthly payments from you to continue using it. In the end, the total expenses may greatly exceed your budget.
Personally, I don't see consumers accepting Windows as a subscription. There is already a strong resentment and uproar against this model because it brings uncertainty in your future. Although you get the latest version with a subscription, there are several downsides to this model - you must accept whatever changes the latest version in the subscription brings to you including removed features, removed preferences, loss of your control over settings, loss of productivity because the upgrade introduced unnecessary or undesirable changes - just about any change that they want to force will have to be accepted by you.
Essentially, by agreeing to pay for a software subscription, you are signing away your right to evaluate and reject technology changes that you may not like.
Do you like the idea of subscriptions? How much money are you willing to spend per month on software when so many free and high quality alternatives are available?