There’s a really interesting article I just read by Adrian Kingsley Hughes at ZDNet where he talks about Windows and licensing.

He quotes an analyst who suggests that Microsoft should follow in Apple’s footsteps and make Windows a free upgrade going forward.

Some quotes:

“With its aspirational products, Apple is already perceived to be an innovator in many ways, and offering free upgrades is yet another step for the trend-setting leader to strengthen its position,” wrote Clifford Leimbach, a memory and storage analyst at IHS.

“Thus, a move like a free upgrade could well be the tipping point for vacillating fence-sitters, pulling them finally into the Apple camp. A Mac could become more appealing to this receptive segment of buyers, especially when free upgrades now β€” and for the future β€” are considered in the overall calculations of a new purchase. Factor in Apple’s vaunted ecosystem with its industry-dominant iTunes marketplace for apps, songs and videos, the allure to jump fences could prove irresistible.”

As Apple and Android increasingly move to free or in the case of Android are already free, this starts to beg the question, how long can Microsoft continue to charge $119 and $199 for an Operating System?

As users continue to move to mobile devices in the form of tablets and phones, it seems to me that it may make more sense to transition to a product model (which Microsoft say they are doing) and fold the cost of the software into device prices.

It’s a tough call because Microsoft is fundamentally different from Apple in the way they run their business. Also it begs the question, if you make upgrades permanently free for consumers, could Microsoft still charge Enterprises and businesses licensing fees?

I want to hear from you guys and girls though.

The question is, what do you think about Microsoft’s licensing model and where do you see it going in the future? Is charging consumers $119 and $199 a viable option going into the future?

What do you think the licensing model should be?

Use the comments below and let us know….

About the Author

Onuora Amobi is the Founder and VP of Digital Marketing at Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems.

In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. ( and The Redmond Cloud (

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  • xinu

    Well for one it would likely speed up adoption of Windows 8 and reduce piracy. Microsoft could of course adopt a model where they offer a Windows version for home use which is free, and a Windows version which offers professional features such as active directory and other enterprise features.

  • Simon Backett

    Yeah, who the hell wants to pay that kind of money for a simple Windows upgrade. I actually agree with you – time to end the OS for a fee era.

  • John

    Windows 8.1 was free.

    • Simon Backett

      Yeah but is that a one off or permanent?

      • John

        It is permanent.

    • un-village-seoul

      Windows 8.1 Upgrade was FREE! The DVD or ISO will cost $$$.

      • John

        Windows 8 came free with windows 8 PCs.

  • Arnold

    8.1 was free to upgrade from 8.0 the same way Mavericks was free to upgrade to from mountain lion. Both mountain lion and 8.0 are NOT I repeat NOT free. Why do people still believe that apple was giving away free software? they did the same free upgrade that Microsoft did.

  • Arnold

    but, I do agree even if its not free, It should not be $119. I think it should be $49 and $99 for pro. If it can go lower like $29 and $79 even better.

  • Ric S

    I claim coining the term “OSaaS.” Could this work for Microsoft? Not right now it couldn’t. Microsoft has the exact opposite business strategy of Apple; they focus on the software, and out-source the hardware to others. This strategy, unfortunately, may be past its prime.

    The competition – Mac OS and Android (and ChromeOS, now, MS?) – have other revenue streams or packages whereby they can at the very least hide, if not eliminate, the cost of the OS for the consumer. Consumers today don’t buy hardware + software, they buy an experience. Apple has proven that people are willing and happy to pay a premium price for a complete experience, but only if they are given no cheaper alternative. Windows OEMs like to cover a broad range of price points, resulting in a spectrum of customer experiences due to differing levels of hardware optimization; people won’t buy the most expensive Windows machine if there’s a cheaper one that they think they can get by with, and so the Windows brand gets an inconsistent reputation that puts people off. As much as Windows OEMs like to compete with and differentiate themselves from each other, that introduces further inconsistency and results in a plethora of mildly-popular brands next to the goliath that is Apple.

    I think Microsoft knows that trusting OEMs is at this point a losing game. That’s why they’re pushing Surface so hard, and that’s why they bought Nokia’s devices department. They want to gradually shift into Apple’s model; hardware + software, the complete experience, under one roof. Only at that point will OSaaS work in their favor.

    The only other way to go about this is to try to charge the OEM a subscription to Windows for their devices, the cost for which the OEM would just pass on to the consumer anyway. Devices would simply cost more, which would hurt the OEMs as they target certain price points. OEMs may soon have the option of leaving Windows behind, so MS can’t push that policy too far.

    In the near future, then, I suspect MS will start charging less and less for Windows upgrades, and continue to focus on developing their own hardware offerings to start subsidizing the cost of Windows development with premium devices. They will still run into a problem when iWork or Google Docs become a serious productivity competitor, but neither of those is there yet.

  • Thaddeus C. Jones II

    To add to Ric’s comments; MS is a Software company… if it gives it’s software away for free, then what kind of company would it be? More over, Check out the price difference.. Let’s say iPad mini w/ Retina vs Dell Venue 8 Pro… No competition.. I know because I have both and use the Venue 90% of the time.
    My guess is the “free software” to own an Apple product probably adds ~$150 extra dollars to the price.

  • Chennakesavalu varadarajulu.

    It is high time for Microsoft to review its licensing model in the context of transformation from business model base on services to Devices&services model.When Microsoft is ready to offer its OS as free to its OEM vendors, why not its Upgrade to consumers?Besides, when it’s competitors offer their OS as free,Microsoft should also follow suit !

  • WillyThePooh

    OSX is not free. You have to buy their hardware that’s a lot of money. Part of it is for the OS. Apple doesn’t sell stand-alone OS. The $119 and $199 are the cost of OS by itself. It doesn’t come with hardware and so the profit has to come from selling OS alone. This article is totally misleading.
    Besides, MS always provides SP for free while Apple was charging about $20 for every version upgrade in OSX until the last one.

  • Danny S

    somebody has been drinking too much fairy tea. It would surprise me if Microsoft will ever give away its software.

  • Ray C

    Maybe Microsoft should drastically reduce its license fees, but there is no way they should be giving software away for free to end users. Apple’s software is not free. They’re just no longer charging for upgrades. But I think they should reduce the price to the end user, especially if they’re going to be coming out with new versions of Windows more often.

  • Hadi

    i really wanted to migrate to windows 8 but the price was too much ,so i decided to stick with windows 7.