What will you do when you have to pay a subscription for Windows?

Windows 10Windows 10 is due for release some time late in 2015 and it’s going to disrupt the way that you buy computers forever. You’re going to have to pay an ongoing subscription in order to use the Windows 10 operating system.

Yes that’s right, no longer when you buy a computer will you be buying the operating system, Microsoft intend to rent it to you and if you stop paying your hardware will be rendered useless.

Currently all the Microsoft blurb is trumpeting the fact that upgrading to Windows 10 will be free (for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices). What they’re not shouting about quite as loudly is that it’s free for the first year, but that it’ll actually be a subscription model.

Ever since the first versions of Windows the entire world has been used to paying a Windows licence or buying an OEM version of Windows included for free when you purchased a PC or Laptop. That’s all about to change and Microsoft want to gouge you monthly (or annually) for a Windows subscription.

Microsoft have already moved to a subscription basis for Office 360 which is one of the main reasons I still use my copy of Office 2007. However using a version of Windows that was eight years old would mean I’d be trying to get by on Windows Vista for which support ceased five years ago in 2010. That’s just not a viable position to be in.

We still don’t know if new PCs and Laptops will come with the first year’s Windows 10 subscription included, or if you’ll have to sign up to a direct debit the day you buy your device. What we do know is that the resale value of old hardware will bomb and reselling old hardware will pretty much mean your buyer will have to purchase a subscription if they want to use it.

Tech Republic have run some numbers and estimate that a Windows 10 subscription will set you back $50 per year. Translated to the UK that’ll probably come in at fifty quid a year as traditionally tech companies idea of currency exchange is simply to keep the number and swap the $ symbol for a £ symbol.

Ultimately it’s going to be a pain for the whole world. Occasional computer users are going to be hardest hit. For instance my mother who is in her 70s will have to pay the same for using a Windows 10 computer a couple of times a month as me and I’m probably using a laptop for 8 hours a day or more. Even worse if you run a laptop and a desktop computer as you’ll be paying multiple subscriptions, although Microsoft will probably introduce licence plans for those with multiple devices in the household. Thankfully for mobile users it’s predicted that there’ll be no licence fee for sub 9″ devices.

Which ever way you cut it though, Windows users are going to start paying more and the cost of a new computer will no longer be limited to the price you pay when you make your purchase, that’s unless another suitable mass market operating system comes to the market. Linux hasn’t cracked it and neither has Apple with their Mac offerings. Perhaps Android or the Google Chrome operating system will be the solution, although neither are as robust and ubiquitous as what’s about to become a very expensive reliance on Microsoft Windows.