Microsoft tends to (appropriately) release several different versions of their operating system when they release it.

Vista had multiple versions as did Windows 7 (Home Basic, Ultimate, Professional etc).

One of the consistent pieces of feedback I get on my sites from visitors all over the world is, if you don’t live in a developed country, Windows is unaffordable.

This is often the rational used by millions of people who use wares, cracks and serials to bypass Microsoft software protection.

So, just for sh*ts and giggles, wouldn’t it be cool if Microsoft had an ad supported version of their operating system that was (in essence) free?

They could call it Windows 8 Starter edition (a la Office 2010).

You would be able to install and set up Windows 8, log in and install programs as usual.

The catch? Well, your screen saver and desktop background would (on a schedule set by Microsoft) show ads or logos or branding of companies based on the geographical location you were at.

A copy of Windows 8 Starter Edition being used in Seattle for instance would show ads by Starbucks and local Seattle restaurants/businesses.

The ads would be persistent and baked into the OS and there would be no option to turn them off.

They would have to strike the right balance of showing ads and allowing the user to get their work done but it could be done.

It would work for everyone:

  • Microsoft could earn revenue off of each version of Windows 8 Starter they sold;
  • Advertisers would have a captive audience and could also advertise more cost efficiently and effectively based on geography;
  • Users would get a free copy of Windows and wouldn’t have to go without or look for hacks, warez or serials..

Now, I am a realist and I know that some rocket scientist out there would try and disable the ads just because.

But even with hacks and piracy factored in, I believe that it would still be a win/win for everyone involved.

What do you folks think?

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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  1. That would actually work but Microsoft are too friggin greedy to let that happen.

    They are too focused on traditional models and that is why the Google Chrome OS will probably do exactly what you’re talking about and bite them in the ass…

  2. Sounds cool but I bet Microsoft wont even do that for the older versions of Windows.

  3. That is a horrible idea. Who would want ads following them around on their OS?

  4. Why would an advertiser want to spend money advertising to a person who won't buy an os?

  5. Even if I _had_ the bloody money, I'd never buy Windows when I can have it for free (and by the time they think of a way that we can't have it for free, GNU/Linux distributions such as Ubuntu will have evolved enough in terms of user-friendliness for a mass migration). Even with what might just as well be millions of people using pirated copies of Windows, Microsoft is still covering its expenses and making a steady profit. They're paying thousands of employees, they're the market leader, and, hey, Bill Gates is one of the wealthiest people in the world. But no, they want _growth_. Not only growth of their capital, which is fine, but _growth of the growth_. What for?

  6. If they made it free…someone would make a crack to remove the ads.

    Hell, Microsoft themselves cant even protect their own software from getting cracked, and they designed the OS.

  7. You have some good ideas but I think this one is a bad idea.

    1) Undeveloped countries should try Linux.
    2) I hate ads, if ads were in windows than I would put it on my list of what I’d like to see removed from windows
    3) “someone would make a crack to remove the ads”

  8. In pure business terms, this would be commercial suicide. It sounds like a stick for Apple to beat Microsoft with, can you imagine the field day mac zealots would have over an ad supoorted Windows?

  9. Yeah I’m sure some people who are just cheap will go for it, but in the end I’d just rather pay for it. We barely wanted ad support applications on our systems let alone the OS itself. Many of us have been there when attempting to get certain software or a service for free. In the end, ad-support software is never what it’s cracked up to be

  10. i hope it is working very well and it will be faster than win 7

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