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Why is Windows 10 "free"?

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  • Why is Windows 10 "free"?

    I know that blogs have fallen out of fashion but I thought that what I had to say on this subject was a bit much for a forum post. So I blogged it over here.



  • #2
    I feel like Microsoft is really outdated in terms of technology here. Most of the PC softwares are free-to-upgrade even Mac OS. And it's obviously more efficient that way to just focus on one single development. It's not like they're making complete different OSes. It's just the same with some more fixes and features. They just keep on charging ridiculous fees even for an Office upgrade.

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    • #3
      I'm not convinced that their tech is out of date. It's the business model that nearly slipped through their grasp.

      The seemingly unstoppable rise of the App Store has had a massive effect on not only the availability of software but also on its price and scope. Now, you don't have to go to a store and scan the shelves in the hope that they stock something close to what you want. You don't need to trawl Amazon looking for the version of an app for your platform. You just open up the store and every alternative is there and ready for immediate deployment.

      Microsoft have started late on this road and it remains to be seen if they can catch up but, as I said in the blog post, I believe that the rush to get consumers onto a single version of Windows is driven by making the MS App Store viable.

      App Stores themselves have had a massive impact on the nature of what we used to call Applications. And much of the difference is shown in the change of name. Apps are small. Apps are cheap. Apps do a single thing well.

      You mentioned Office and that's a good example of Old School application building. Start with some separate applications: A word processor, a spreadsheet and a database. Then bundle them together. Then add some glue between them. (Anyone remember DDE and OLE?) Then add features for pretty much every little use case you can think of. For every niche and vertical market. Keep it all together and sell it in a big lump.

      That's why Office is so costly. It does an astonishingly large range of things. And when MS sell it, they need to cover the cost of developing and maintaining all of them. Plus some profit.

      Apps, on the other hand, do one thing and they do it simply. They don't join up any dots. In mobile, that's the job of the Operating System. And they're cheap. Paid more than a few bucks for an App recently?

      So, why is Office so expensive to buy? Well, this time it's nothing to do with consumers at all. It's about business. Businesses view cloud with varying degrees of horror but they are all about making money. So MS gives them a choice: By all means, keep on using your "owned" perpetual licences for Office, Exchange, SharePoint etc. Or use these much, MUCH cheaper alternatives on a subscription model in the cloud.

      Without getting into a discussion on the relative merits of locally vs. remotely hosted infrastructure, the numbers are a hard argument to refute. There's a reason that Office 365 numbers are growing at a massive pace: It's relatively cheap.

      Um, that turned out to be a longer reply than I expected... This is a complex area where every question seems to bleed into a larger, dynamic picture.

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      • #4
        Yeah, of course they can charge as much money for their products as they want to. But having to repay for them every upgrades is ridiculous.
        Office 365 for example, you can have all the upgrades you want, but you have to keep subscribing to get them.

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        • #5
          Once again, it depends on your use case. I'm going to use UK list prices here. The common misconception is that O365 just gets you access to Office...

          Short version: If you only need the core Office Apps on a single machine, buying Office to install locally makes sense. Otherwise, it probably doesn't.

          Long version:

          The standalone, basic version of Office (230) repays itself in about three and a half years compared to an Office 365 (60 per year) personal subscription. Assuming you won't get any use/value from the bundled O365 goodies, you'll get around a decade of security patches and, in that scenario, it makes sense to get it. Assuming all you want is Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook. (They claim OneNote is also included but that's completely free to everyone, everywhere.)

          Office 365 Home, on the other hand is a different beast altogether. Priced at 80 per year for 5 PCs and 5 tablets (and all the mobes you can eat), it gives value way beyond the core access to the Office Suite. (The personal version is 60 per year for 1 PC, 1 tablet and all your mobes.)

          • Online Apps: You get full access to the online apps (including Access) as well as the ability to make 5 full, local installs on PCs and another 5 on tablets. Google Apps is the only credible alternative and, assuming you just want basic apps, it comes in at 36 per user per year. That said, although Docs is now usable and decently featured, Slides is adequate and Sheets is, frankly, little better than a calculator. Where Docs shines, though is with Gmail which in terms of online is definitely the best on the market. And pretty much free. Of course, Google do sift through all your email to direct ads at you but, hey, that's the price you pay.
          • Storage: There's 5TB of online OneDrive storage thrown in. That's 132 a year at DropBox or Box, 84 on iCloud (1TB max.) and an eye-watering 800 on Google Drive. If you need this sort of service, O365 gives it to you cheaper and throws in Office for free. MS have committed to raising the storage to 2TB in the near future and ultimately to make it unlimited. They have said that this will not result in a price increase.
          • Telephony: 5 hrs per month of Skype calls to landlines in a bunch of countries (pretty much the whole of the Americas and Europe along with a few others) and also to mobes in a few others (notably US, Canada, China). Obviously, the value of this depends on your usage (and existing bundles) but we have family and friends all over the world and it's invaluable for staying in touch with those who don't have access to video calling.


          If there's value in any of the bundled services, then O365 makes a lot of sense, especially for storage. If not, then the old standalone model is a good one.

          By the way, for all the complaining about how expensive Office is to buy, the price has fallen steadily over the years. I remember back in the early days when it was 400 a copy. Now even after a couple of decades of inflation, it's almost half that. I agree it isn't cheap and that the cost of software is now pretty much the same as you spend on (non-MS and Apple) hardware but it is a lot less than it was.

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          • #6
            To answer the original question in the title of this thread, it's because they want to migrate all users (and thus, developers) to the same, unified platform. That means more apps, and less delopment cost. At least, that's the non-conspiracy version. The foil-hat version is that Windows 10 contains a bunch of spyware and back-doors courtesy of NSA and they want everyone to use that so the government can keep spying on everyone.

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            • #7
              The foundation of Win 10 is Win 7 which is still an excellent OS. Win 10 as a whole however, is full of bloatware, keylogs, and the ever annoying auto updates. Sure you can configure it to your taste, but that`s just the thing... users should not have to. I do not trust the OS, and therefor not currently using it.

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              • #8
                +1epicdavid
                Its free also because it has the so called advertise ID
                "If you're not paying for the product, you are the product."

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                • #9
                  [MENTION=271642]sasuk32[/MENTION] Yes and no. Everyone already have that through their facebook/google/live accounts or whatever, now it's just being integrated into the OS. It's not the main reason, wouldn't be worth it.

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                  • #10
                    Because it's a tarp, careful of it. :D

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                    • #11
                      Not really free. Nothing free in this world.

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                      • #12
                        It's free to make sure they keep dominating the PC market.
                        Then they make a profit off the other Windows-apps, like Office.

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                        • #13
                          it won't be forever, this is to try and get as many people as possible to switch as soon as possible. Once you remove the built in spyware it seems fine and almost everything I have tried works fine.
                          But Cortana wont' work unless you turn on some options like location and app access, so it's Meh... Cortana's getting better but not so helpful yet.

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                          • #14
                            I believe M$ made it a free upgrade for a year so they can get as many people as possible to upgrade to Windows 10. I think they were aiming at a billion devices or something when first launched.

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                            • #15
                              It's basically that. They want everyone on the latest operating system so they minimize legacy support effort and can more quickly move forward. It's also great for stats.

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