Makers Should Worry About Microsoft’s New StrategySeptember 09, 2015 by Jennifer A. Diffley
Windows 10 is the last numbered Windows operating systems, and its advent also marks the last of Microsoft's single purchase model. From here on out, customers can expect to pay per year for their software, which gives rise to a host of problems and spells a shift in the way software companies align with makers.
The pay-as-you-go model is another misstep in the company's flawed trajectory.
Back in May, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be their last numbered operating system. That's not to say that 10 is the last Windows ever: it's still Microsoft's hottest product, they're just switching to a much more annoying customer model. From here on out, Microsoft will release updates and patches that will grow Windows continuously instead of releasing a single platform for a flat fee and its subsequent updates for free.
Microsoft sent out millions of emails inviting users to upgrade to Windows 10 for no cost...but they neglected to mention the timeframe in which the new operating system would actually remain free. It's the old "first one's free adage," but this time it's a technological dependency instead of a chemical one--that still doesn't make it any less nefarious.
The new Windows 10 is the last numbered operating system before Windows switches to a pay-as-you-go model.
The new model is undoubtedly a way to squeeze more money out of customers while grasping for loyalty among a fleeing fan base, but it may end up backfiring. One of the main reasons updates and patches were released for free was that they helped protect the individual computer as well as the network it was attached to from security vulnerabilities. An attack on an exposed computer inevitably put others at risk as well, so the updates benefited both Microsoft and its users.
Now, however, those security patches and upgrades are going to cost. And that means, for the users who refuse to or simply can't pay, they'll be exposed to a host of problems ranging from minor glitches to massive vulnerabilities.
For makers, the pay-as-you-go model could lead to further difficulties, both in hardware that simply won't function correctly without updated software that can't be gotten without paying, and in customers who are simply fed up with Microsoft altogether and are unwilling to buy computers with Windows software.
And what about Windows 10 IoT Core? Here's a worst-case scenario to consider: if Microsoft makes all its software pay-as-you-go, then that means its IoT software is included. That software could very well control devices in your home which, if you haven't paid to keep the software running it updated, could leave physical objects around you accessible to others through security vulnerabilities. Far-fetched, sure, but not entirely out of the question.
The pay-as-you-go model that others like Adobe have adopted can sometimes be useful. Photoshop, for instance, has adopted a monthly fee schedule that makes the photo editing software much cheaper than buying the $700 software outright. That makes it much more accessible to the average user. But what about the fee for Windows? No definitive word on that cost.
The end result is yet another fee to add onto a society that's already billed to death and a product that becomes quickly obsolete if not continuously paid for.