Some day you might have to pay for a Windows 10 subscription

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.

windows 10 subscription subscribe logo bannerMicrosoft 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?

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

12 thoughts on “Some day you might have to pay for a Windows 10 subscription”

  1. I imagine you’d also have to verify the validity every month. So if your internet goes out (as mine did last month, had to switch ISP) then your OS will stop working.

  2. When that happen, the sheeple will fall in line and pay, just to be able to use the computer they bought and access their own data.

  3. None! I had Windows 8 License which they took away to give me Windows10. If they want me to pay, then I will go back to Windows 8 if I can else some flavour of Linux world. :)

    1. Upgrading to Windows 10 doesn’t dissolve your Windows 8 license. Just reinstall it. I did it with Windows 7.

  4. I don’t really like to pay for Windows 10 subscription. It looks like Microsoft fill their budgets with money. If we’ll need to pay for Windows 10 subscription, I could rollback to Windows 8/8.1 or some kind of Linux system like Ubuntu. Windows 10 subscription could also crash a lot of smaller YouTube/Twitch channels which use Windows 10 for streaming. Also it could make a big dissafistication in Windows 10 and more and more people will be forced to rollback to their old systems or buy a Mac or install Linux.

  5. My limit is 59 cents per month, just to keep an eye on it for customers, in much the same way that I have Win 10 Insider Preview on a laptop that I never use for anything. MS reminds me more and more of P.T. Barnum and his American Museum. Boundless contempt for their customers, nicely demonstrated by the recent phone support service in which non-English speaking agents will always quickly hang up on callers who they clearly do not understand at all. I do suspect that callers using their language, whatever it is, would get the same treatment since these personnel know nothing about computers. They perhaps do the job for free just to be indoors. I don’t know.

    We can’t even blame Microsoft for thinking we’re stupid considering that Linux is not easy to give away even for free. Maybe a Windows subscription model is the best thing Redmond can do to help Linux get just a little more polish and gain widespread desktop usage at last.

    1. Microsoft is a commercial company, so will do whatever it takes to keep making money. They will do a lot of polling and research before requiring a subscription from all its users. And remember, consumers in general do not have the “clout” of the enterprise. If MS think they can make a subscription stick for the majority, then they’ll make sure it happens. Tech support businesses will do what their customers want, most likely subscription; but others will be left to do whatever they want.

      Some proof of the above is already available: Windows 10 itself. Remember the outrage, hair-pulling and general angst when it was first introduced, spying, etc? How many vocal users have changed to Linux? It’s interesting that Windows 10 is slowly but surely taking over the user base previously occupied by XP and Seven.

      MS isn’t going to demand a consumer/Joe Public subscription for a while yet – there’s still time for us to keep with previous OSes. But a few years in the future when MS have got Win10 more stable and “feature friendly”, and when the masses have it running on their PC-laptop-whatever, I’m sure we’ll see a subscription for consumers too.

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