Recent news broke about a possible change in Microsoft’s licensing terms for their next Operating System, Windows 12. The report does not confirm that Microsoft will release a new Operating System soon, as the references are from the latest Windows 11 Canary build.
Deskmodder compared the two ini configuration files of Windows 11 23H2, which is in Release Preview at the moment, and the latest canary build. The leaked image suggests that there will be a separate subscription edition in addition to the currently available Windows 11 editions. There will be two types of subscription licenses, device based subscription license and user based subscription license.
Microsoft may require a subscription for Windows 12?
While Microsoft may want to introduce a version of Windows that requires a subscription, I strongly believe Microsoft will never let go of the traditional license models it currently uses for the consumer, the corporate/company user, and even the cloud user.
If you are an old user of Windows, you would know that Microsoft used to enforce licenses up until Windows 7. It would force users to pay to use Windows after 30 days of trial. Windows 10 and and Windows 11 can be installed and used for free without any major limitations.
With each new Windows release, Microsoft has become lenient with its licensing policies. This is due to two reasons.
- It wants to retain its corporate customer base, which it will retain through subscriptions and retail/volume licenses for Windows. Microsoft has already done this successfully with its Office products.
- It wants to keep a major share of users worldwide using its technology. This enables Microsoft to push its other products like Bing and Microsoft Advertising.
Current Microsoft licensing model and future predictions
Traditionally, Microsoft has followed a model where users are required to purchase a lifetime license to use its products, be it Windows or Office. With the emergence of Google Android OS and cloud subscription models like Azure, Microsoft introduced a subscription-based license for its Office users by introducing Microsoft 365.
The benefit of the subscription model is that the user always gets up-to-date software with premium support while charges remain low as compared to the one-time license which requires a rather higher upfront payment, limiting the license to a single version of the product.
I think Microsoft will keep the same licensing model and add a subscription license to it. If you want to use an app or OS that is always up-to-date and connected to the cloud, you could pay a subscription fee for it instead of the hefty one time license fee. I would want Microsoft use the following license models:
- Retail: For consumers who want to run a single instance of Windows on their PC and don’t want to upgrade frequently.
- Volume: For enterprises, large companies and partners who want to purchase licenses in bulk.
- OEM: For vendors of PCs and gadgets.
- Subscription: For consumers who want access to the latest features of the OS including cloud storage offers etc.
I’m not sure what IOT enterprise subscriptions will be called but they can also be added to the list of licenses. Microsoft should make the OS free for home users and make money through the Microsoft Store apps. This concept is already implemented by Google and Apple. Both won’t charge anything for their Operating System, but the apps can be purchased through their respective app stores. This will give a better experience for the users.
What are your thoughts and wishes regarding Microsoft Windows licensing? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.