Microsoft, do you want Windows 8 to be a success? Then give it away for free!
Hey Microsoft, Apple are kicking your ass in tablets, you’re light years away from catching Google on the web, Windows Phone is an also-ran and open source software is on the march.
You need to do something unexpected, something that will kick folks in their pants, something that your hardware partners will love you for, something that uncomplicates consumer choice and gives them upgrades forever, something that will make you more competitive with free software.
In short, you need to give Windows 8 away to consumers for free!
Sound ridiculous? Hear me out OK. Most of the money you make from Windows today is from enterprises anyway so feel free to carry on selling your enterprise-y version of Windows (one with Group Policy, Active Directory domain logins, etc…) to them! For consumers though – they get a nice crapware-free version of Windows! It’ll be one version of Windows too – none of this Windows Starter Edition, Windows Home Edition, Windows Ultimate Edition yadda yadda yadda crap. In one fell swoop you kill Android on tablets, because why would your hardware partners bother to waste time shipping it? You get Windows Phones front and centre in folks’ faces too – cross-sell the hell outta that!
“How do we make money though?” you ask! Simple, you build products and services that people want and make Windows a loss-leader for them (just like you currently do with XBox). You make money from the app store. You make sure that the first live tiles someone sees when they log onto Windows are HOTMAIL, BING, MSN, SKYPE & XBOX. You make Azure and AdCenter an obvious choice for people building Windows 8 apps and services. You let content partners sell music and video through you, and you take your 5%. You carry on flogging gazillions of Sharepoint and Office 365 licenses. You provide a consumer version of Windows Intune. You make it braindead simple for people to buy Office. You’ll make a bucketload of cash and no-one hates you for it because you’re giving your core product away for free!
You never have to support legacy software for consumers again. Windows XP support still going on more than a decade after it comes out? Thing of the past!
Oh, and did I mention that all your Windows piracy woes disappear in a flash? Instead you can flog apps to those millions of chinese folk that currently use Windows for free anyway!
Seriously, give Windows 8 away to consumers. You may take a small hit in the short term but you’ll be reaping the benefits for years.
You’re welcome, by the way!