Windows needs to be free

Or in the very least it should have price parity with Android.

I've been arguing this one for a while now, and I usually get shot down pretty quickly, so just hear me out :)

There was a click-bait article covering this idea which I won't link to, but Paul Thurrott made a much better argument here.

I also thought this comment made by interim Nokia CEO Risto Siilasmaa on the Microsoft-Nokia deal was interesting...

"Microsoft does have the resources, but they lack the business model that allows them to gain an improved return on significant incremental investment. If Microsoft would have to invest $20 to sell one more device and would earn $10 in licensing fees as a result, there is no incentive to invest."

What this is saying in effect, is that the era of creating and selling an operating system for mobile phones is over. It is no longer a valid business mode.

I would argue that if we haven't reached this point with tablets we are quickly heading there, and that one day when Google or another company get their act together and offer a desktop replacement comparable to Windows then the same situation is going to exist there as well.

I actually believe that Microsoft already knows this, which is the primary driver behind the re-org and the move toward a "devices and services" company rather than a "software" company.

Sometime in the the next 5 years I also think they will be forced to act on it. Here is what I think will happen...

  • Windows (the client OS) will be free for both consumers and businesses.
  • Windows (the server OS) will not be free. Server licenses and CAL's will be priced in such a way to strongly encourage business to move to Microsoft's hosted online solutions.
  • Microsoft replaces lost Windows revenue on the enterprise side with business services (Office 365, SharePoint, Lync, SkyDrive Pro, Azure, Active Directory Online etc) that support both Windows as well as Mac, Android, iOS etc
  • Microsoft replaces lost Windows revenue on the consumer side with consumer services (Xbox, Xbox Music, Xbox Video, Windows Store apps, Office Home & Business etc) that support both Windows as well as Mac, Android, iOS etc
  • Microsoft expand their device business to a large range of devices. With Windows free, OEM's can't be against Microsoft expanding their devices division because they would be on a level playing field.