One thing that the start of this year has cleared up is that there is no such thing as a Windows 8.2. Not that there was a solid chance of this happening keeping in mind the history of Windows, but for now the focus is shifting towards Windows 9.
This major new version of the operating system is widely expected to be here by April 2015.
We do not have any specific details on what exactly could be included in this fresh new flavor, but one thing that is causing a bit of a stir is the pricing of Windows, going forward. Redmond, hardware partners, analysts, even users would like a perfect point, an impeccable mix.
Something that could lead to record sales and much wider adoption of the new OS.
The debate is heating up, and taking everything into account (read Windows 8 sales performance), there are some that are suggesting a radical new shift in strategy for Redmond.
Brad Reback, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus thinks that offering Windows 9 for free to users may be Microsoft’s only option to keep up with competition like Google and Apple — the days of charging for operating systems are slowly dwindling:
“Today, when looking at the aggregate OS market (phone/tablet/PC), Microsoft is the only vendor that explicitly charges for the OS software.
We believe this could prove untenable in coming years, forcing Microsoft to give away the OS and attempt to monetize Windows usage/support via various methods depending on the end-customer. We believe this is the single biggest challenge Microsoft’s new CEO will face in coming years.”
In a nutshell the analyst seems to think that Microsoft will be forced (by market dynamics) to emulate what Google and Apple are doing with Android and iOS respectively — and that is essentially giving their operating systems away for free to end consumers.
Redmond can, however, use services like Bing, Skype and Office 365 for monetization.
It can also look at the enterprise sector to pay for support via enterprise agreements, so that is another avenue for earning. But offering Windows 9 for free to hardware vendors will not only stop them from going over to the Android camp, but also result in more Windows devices on the store shelves.
Anyway, Windows 9 is shaping up to be a real game changer, a make or break type of a product. Redmond would, for obvious reasons, be evaluating all its strategies as it works on the new OS.