Microsoft is not going to make you pay an annual fee for Windows. Period.
Hi, everyone. Leo Notenboom here and I wanted to talk about this persistent rumor that simply will not go away about Microsoft potentially starting to charge an annual fee for users of Windows.
It’s not going to happen, and I want to explain to you how it came to be; why I feel that way; how Microsoft has made the problem worse, and basically, what you should do. The short version on that is – nothing. Keep on keeping on.
So, one of the things that’s happened is that a lot of what I believe are (I end up classifying them as trolls and Microsoft haters) have latched on to this concept, this rumor, that Microsoft is supposedly going to start charging an annual subscription fee for Windows at some point in the future.
Like I said, and I’ll say it several times today, it’s not going to happen. There’s no proof that anything like that is actually in the cards. There have been a lot of words associated with it, a lot of miscommunication. Microsoft has been fairly consistently poor about their messaging and their approach to getting Windows 10 out, and this is another case of that.
Here’s what happened: Back a couple of years ago, now or a year and a half, almost, when Windows 10 was initially released or announced, somewhere in there, a Microsoft person used the phrase, “software as a service”. Now, what they meant by that, I believe is how software is delivered to the user. We all use services all the time online and elsewhere.
Some of them get paid by a subscription fee; some do not. Now what’s confusing about this, of course, is that the software as a service model that they’re talking about with Windows really boils down to, well, delivering your updates and your major updates online by downloads. It’s an online service; they’re slowly switching it to be an online service.
The confusing part, of course, is that isn’t that what Windows has kind of sort of always been or at least has been for the past five or 10 years? All of your updates, and even your major updates like service packs, have been coming down via your online, your internet connection. So that’s a little confusing to begin with.
Microsoft is moving more in that direction to deliver more and more updates, more and more continuous updates, more and more stability and improvements through the online update mechanism, and that’s really all they were talking about; that’s really all they meant to imply.
Unfortunately, many people took this “software as a service” statement as some kind of implication that Microsoft was planning on charging a recurring fee, like every month or every year because so many other online services do exactly that. Microsoft isn’t going to do that. Not for the consumer market; that’s not something they ever stated they were going to do; there are no, zero, data points that says they have any plans to do that at any time. Now, of course, Microsoft, in classic Microsoft style, when it comes to communication around Windows 10, they made it worse because rather than saying, “No, we’re never, ever going to do this”, what they said is, “We currently have no plans or we have no current plans”, however they intended to word it.
That, from a corporate perspective, actually makes a lot of sense, because you never or ever want to close a door, make a final decision that says we’re never, ever going to do this. Now, I’ll actually describe a scenario where they could end up doing this, and it still isn’t the end of the world, but clearly, Microsoft doesn’t want to close that door.
Of course, the fact that they weren’t willing to actually say, “Absolutely no, not ever” meant that everybody (the trolls and the haters) immediately came out and said, “Oh my gosh! They’re waffling! They’ve got plans they’re not telling us about!” Again – not the case. I really think that’s an overreaction. I really do think Microsoft has no plans to do this, and I certainly believe that they have no plans to require it.
Now, that’s where things get a little bit interesting, because again, and the reason that it’s come up yet again, is that in the last couple of weeks, Microsoft announced that Enterprise customers have the ability to license Windows as a subscription with an annual fee. And of course, once again, everybody said, “Oh my god, this is what’s coming! Microsoft is doing this for the Enterprise. They’re going to force us to do it at the consumer level.”
Again, there’s no data that says they are, and in fact, this whole Enterprise scenario, it’s nothing new. Large companies have always been able to pay an ongoing maintenance or subscription fee for additional or advanced support of whatever version of Windows they happened to be running in the past. That had no impact on the consumer-pricing model; it had no impact on consumer deliverables; it’s just what big companies are able to do.
Sometimes they need that kind of additional support. It costs Microsoft more money to provide it so they charge an annual fee. That’s all that really is. Like I said, it has no implication for the consumer market. And when you think about it, requiring an annual subscription would just be really, really bad for Microsoft’s business. Why? Look at the panic just the rumor seems to cause. Everybody’s afraid that Microsoft’s going to force you to pay an annual fee.
Not gonna happen, but the fact that people react to it so strongly already is a good sign to Microsoft this is not something that they really want to require.
Now, I keep circling around this word, “require” because there actually is a very interesting scenario around the subscription model in the consumer market that Microsoft has already done and actually been doing now for a couple of years.
That is Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office is available as an annual subscription. For something like a $100 a year, you get Microsoft Office (pretty much all of it) on up to something like five different computers, including both Macs and PCs. My take – pretty good deal. It’s what I do but you can still get the standalone-packaged product if that’s what you want. In other words, the subscription model exists; it might be a better deal financially depending on your situation but in no way is it required.
You can still buy the same packaged product (you may have to download), but it’s still the standalone-packaged product that you were able to buy even before the subscription model was even discussed. If Microsoft ever does go down a subscription path with Windows itself, that would be my guess on where they’ve headed, where they would be headed, but again, there have been no indications that they would ever do this.
It really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from a business perspective. It’s the Windows ecosystem that many people keep saying where Microsoft really makes their money. They have the opportunity to really get Windows out around the planet, and putting barriers in the way, like an annual subscription, would just be counterproductive to those ends.
So, ultimately, I really believe that’s not going to happen. This whole concept of fear mongering around Windows subscriptions is really doing everybody a disservice and I use the word “fear-mongering” on purpose. So much so, that with the exception of comments on this article, as long as they are done respectfully, of course, I’m actually considering taking the stance that fear-mongering, continuing to promote this rumor, this unfounded rumor – that Microsoft has plans to charge a subscription fee for Windows – I’m going to start treating it as trolling because that’s really all that I can see that it is.
There’s no data that says it’s going to happen; it’s just causing fear and panic in the industry. There’s no point. So, with all that being said, am I overreacting? Am I underreacting? Should I be more concerned about this whole subscription model thing than I am? It honestly, it doesn’t worry me one bit.
There enough other things, I know, to be concerned about, upset about if you care to about Windows 10. This doesn’t have to be one of them. So let me know what you think. As always, here’s a link to this video posted on askleo.com. This is where the comments are all read, they’re all moderated.
We keep the trolls out. Like I said, I will certainly, happily entertain a respectful discussion on the topic, but like I said elsewhere, I’m probably going to start treating the concerns about this being a subscription model coming down the pike, some kind of evil, hidden agenda on Microsoft’s part, I’m just going to consider it trolling elsewhere and we’ll take it from there.
So as always, I hope to see you again next week with another video. Until then, I’m Leo Notebook for askleo.com. You know the drill by now: Have fun, stay safe, and of course, don’t forget to back up. Take care, everyone.