Microsoft's Windows as a Service comes in to focus with new job posting

Microsoft is in the process of moving all of its major platforms to a subscription based model. Office has already made the jump with Office 365 and the next major platform to make this move will be the company's flagship software, Windows. Windows as a Service, or WaaS, has been on the development roadmap for some time but we are starting to see more and more of this project unfold and with a new job posting, we can understand a tiny bit more about the OS.

Over on Microsoft's careers website, a new job opening for a Senior Software Development Engineer - Membership Offers & Engagement provides a few tidbits about where the WaaS project stands. According to the posting:

We are a team focused on developing services that will power Microsoft's ability to offer Windows as a Service. You will help will build the software platform that allow 1st and 3rd party service providers to onboard their services on to the Microsoft's new consumer membership program. You will prototype and develop services that connect partners with consumers to offer an integrated Microsoft membership experience. You will also have the opportunity to collaborate with multiple teams within Microsoft to strive toward the common goal of delighting our customers through the membership service.

The posting speaks for itself but there are some key takeaways. One is that Microsoft is in full development of the platform, while we have no indication of when it will ship, the company is actively building out the OS. Further, the company plans to work with third party services providers to bring their services to the new OS. This isn't a huge surprise but out of the box experiences will be interesting, and here is why.

Traditionally, you buy a PC and that's how you get your hands on Windows. With the new model, imagine a world where Dell and HP can offer competing WaaS models as you can bet that these vendors likely want in on this action because if Microsoft keeps WaaS close to the chest, then OEMs will likely struggle over time as tradition hardware, slowly fades away. So, it will be key for these vendors to find ways to create their own value propositions with WaaS which will be done by onboarding their services to WaaS (the individual hired for the above job posting will take on this role of creating the onboarding experience).

With their unique attributes, this is how Dell, HP and others will differentiate themselves from other service providers and by having full control over the experience, it gives these OEMs quite a bit of flexibility.

We will be curious to see how long it takes Microsoft to fully develop and then deploy its WaaS strategy. There will also have to be quite a bit of consumer education with the process as well and typically this does not come cheap, as it will be a departure from the company's traditional business model that served the company well for several decades.

Source: Microsoft Careers | Thanks for the tip h0x0d

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Love how people keep making such comments while being ignorant of what is even coming due to complete lack of official info.

At this moment in time, this all means nothing to me. I can handle the future as I survive through it. Its all worked out for me so far.

If Microsoft is gonna do this, there has to be certain hardware requirements and availability:

- 4G built in by default on all devices that ship with WaaS and only available in markets where there is certain 4G ubiquity. I live in Jamaica and although the local carrier claims 90% island support, it is not the case. I am speaking as a technology expert here living in a rural area and living off 3G only.

- There has to be a real value here for the consumer in terms of the service. You can't expect to subscribe and not see greening of the device. Which means, the services built have to either be truly unique to warrant subscribing to Windows or very cheap, like disposable cheap.

- Licensing has to be cheap, when you think about the life cycle of Windows, which is normally 10 years. The initial purchase price of Windows when you buy a perpetual license is about $200 (using Windows 8 Pro as an example here), $20 a year for 10 years is not actually a bad proposition to subscribe to Windows. It kills the price shock when you think about the fact you pay an affordable yearly price to rent Windows that doesn't empty your pocket.

There will need to be some value added services built in to this to make it enticing. Maybe a 90 day free use of Office 365 each year for subscribing. Also, services like International and LAN line calls could be free through Skype, 500 GBs of OneDrive.

This new idea of a rent Windows will certainly need to look at what people do with devices to really make it enticing. It has to justify and remove the idea of paying for a 1 time license use it forever without buying another one with this new philosophy in licensing. Its just like Windows 8 itself, 18 years of the Start menu was a difficult one for many to give up, 30 years of licensing Windows one way to now renting it will be a major shock.

- Finally it has to be very Chrome OS like in nature, transparent, this is a version of Windows, where thinking about maintaining it becomes the past. Data is automatically backed up, it keeps itself updated, there needs to be high availability. Interestingly enough, Windows RT shares some of this philosophy, but then again, you also want WaaS to be as open as x86 Windows and encourage third party developers to promote it by building services for it. At the end of the day, if its not popular with developers like Windows RT, then its going to be an enticing choice. WaaS should be a fine tuned balance between the Windows consumers know in terms of its branding and the platform app developers want to target without the negative baggage that has plagued the platform as a traditional desktop OS over the past 30 years.

At the end of the day, it will have to be optional for a long way until it supersedes traditional licensing (just like Office 365 and Office 2013) existing.

Well, if they do go subscription based then that will be and all the people I've spoken to moving to another OS. Not interested in renting my software. I don't rent _anything_, not movies, not books, not music, not houses or cars, and not software! If I like something I buy it and own it. If they want me to use their software so bad then they can pay me a rental to have it on my PC.

Here in the UK rental/subscription is not popular with the masses/Joe Public like it is in some other countries. Most people like to buy something and own it, with a physical product in their hand. Maybe in a generation or two (50+ years) it will be the norm here but not yet that's for sure.

So if you miss a payment, does your computer quit working? Unbelievable how many people are buying into this garbage.

Thank goodness for FOSS!

COKid said,
So if you miss a payment, does your computer quit working? Unbelievable how many people are buying into this garbage.

Thank goodness for FOSS!


1. We don't know very much about their plans except for rumors.
2. This is just an extension of their current licensing deals with corporations, educations etc. Right now they already pay a monthly fee to access to the MS library of software. This seems to just be an extension of that.
3. MS have never said they're going to get rid of the traditional "buy a box from the retail store" model.

We have no idea how much it will cost, how much it will offer, what is going to be included, if MS premium support is included etc etc etc. Until then I'm holding off on my opinion. It could be good depending on what is offered, it could be horrendous..we just don't know.

-Razorfold said,
3. MS have never said they're going to get rid of the traditional "buy a box from the retail store" model.

Thank goodness for common sense, at least some people around here are still exercising that.

I like the idea, specially if they do it the same way as Office 365, where you have the option for one license or 5.
I wouldn't mind paying a bundle price of $150/year for 5 office and 5 windows licenses.

That way buying pc's could become cheaper because you don't need the OS, that saves the OEMs a bit

I don't think that PC builders will reduce prices from not licensing OS. Prices will stay the same, and we'll have to pay separately for "renting" OS.

With their unique attributes, this is how Dell, HP and others will differentiate themselves from other service providers and by having full control over the experience, it gives these OEMs quite a bit of flexibility.
So, more crapware shovelled onto us then? I'm not against the basic concept per se as long as it is bundled with other services that together make for a compelling purchase (subscription), but unless I can start off with a "clean" version free of any and all OEM crapware I will stay the heck away.

But you won't be buying a car and renting parts of it. You'll be renting a whole car or getting a basic car for free and paying for extra seats, air conditioning and other extras.

Buzz99 said,
Sounds like buying a car and renting the motor, or steering wheel...

No...it's more like leasing a car. You pay a set amount every month, get most repairs taken care of for free and every 2 years you can get a new model.

-Razorfold said,

No...it's more like leasing a car. You pay a set amount every month, get most repairs taken care of for free and every 2 years you can get a new model.

In his analogy

Buying the car=buying the computer
Renting the motor=renting the OS

techbeck said,
Yea, nty....but its not like anyone will have a choice.
Why not? They are not going to do away with standalone licenses IMO. One day in the future perhaps, say with Windows 11 or 12 or even later, but right now there's no way they can push a cloud OS onto everybody across the world.

techbeck said,
but its not like anyone will have a choice.

Not that it's something I'd be personally interested in either but... why no choice? Could you link the source saying they're doing away with all other distribution models?

First the failed windows 8.x and now rumors of a subscription model (again).

Microsoft seems to be dead-set on running their customers off by treating them like yesterdays trash.

Order_66 said,
First the failed windows 8.x and now rumors of a subscription model (again).

Microsoft seems to be dead-set on running their customers off by treating them like yesterdays trash.

Trash? So giving customers a subscription to always have an up to date OS is treating them like trash? What about this whole XP EoL thing? What if EoL software could become a thing of the past?

Dot Matrix said,

Trash? So giving customers a subscription to always have an up to date OS is treating them like trash? What about this whole XP EoL thing? What if EoL software could become a thing of the past?

One problem with Windows as a service is driver support. If you plan on keeping a computer for a long time you better hope your hardware remains supported. If the only option is Windows as a service then Microsoft will EoL older versions much faster which means you might have to choose between paying for new hardware for driver support or continuing to run an unsupported OS.

Dot Matrix said,

Trash? So giving customers a subscription to always have an up to date OS is treating them like trash? What about this whole XP EoL thing? What if EoL software could become a thing of the past?

Which you can also do by buying a new boxed copy when it's released. This only helps one entity: Microsoft, and their bottom line profit.

Javik said,

Which you can also do by buying a new boxed copy when it's released. This only helps one entity: Microsoft, and their bottom line profit.

I thought customers have no money because of the "recession" or some other BS? So now they have money to spend for upgrades?

Dot Matrix said,

I thought customers have no money because of the "recession" or some other BS? So now they have money to spend for upgrades?

What the hell are you on? I never said nor implied anything of the sort.

mrp04 said,

One problem with Windows as a service is driver support. If you plan on keeping a computer for a long time you better hope your hardware remains supported. If the only option is Windows as a service then Microsoft will EoL older versions much faster which means you might have to choose between paying for new hardware for driver support or continuing to run an unsupported OS.

Option 3: Use another OS.

Order_66 said,
First the failed windows 8.x and now rumors of a subscription model (again).

Microsoft seems to be dead-set on running their customers off by treating them like yesterdays trash.

Amen, bro! I have enough bills to pay as it is!

YES!!! I was wondering when this will happen and glad it's I'm full force. The major benefit of this is that allows them to send major updates out faster and easier (I'm assuming the way OS updates are done will be revamped to make the process smoother). Also, no more being stuck in past, people will have the latest versions. Also, when changing devices you can simply switch your activation to another computer. If priced and promoted right, this will do well just like Office. I can even seeing them do an Office + Windows Bundle plan :D

Sign me up!! I see absolutely no need to buy a physical copy of Windows anymore.
The only caveat is that it's cheap... I would never have signed up to Adobe Creative Cloud if it wasn't $9.99 for both Lightroom and Photoshop p/m

Why are people against this, are you he same people who are against metro.

Did you also moan when the wheel was invented? Or sob at the notion the language could be written down or laugh at the idea that aeroplane could work.

Instead of whining why don't we just wait and see what Microsoft has to offer? Your probably the same geniuses that ruined the Xbox one by forcing Microsoft to change it.

Microsoft are the best software makers in the world, and they're not about to let one of their most fundamental platforms burn, they need to move everything in the cloud otherwise windows will become a non-threat by letting it gather dust.

If this windows as a service does come to fruition, it will likely be windows 10. And sanity argues that they will offer a free base version of windows to OEMs, no more licence fees, this base version of windows will probably be just like windows 7 starter, very limited. If I remember correctly windows 7 starter refused to let you run more than 3 applications at once.

For added features, and aces to the Microsoft store and skydiver and built in security and all the other stuff Microsoft is bundling into windows today, you will need a subscription. If your subscription runs out the features stop working showing a command prompt to renew a subscription

If Microsoft are smart, they'll start combining windows, office, music pass, OneDrive and Xbox live subscriptions, similar to adobe and amazon. This is not some weird wacky new idea, software companies have seen this change coming for a while.

If they're even smarter they'll make windows phone free( like they just did) ad offer all the extra trimmings as a subscription also, so the mobile metro office version the Microsoft has coming down the pipe for windows and windows phone will be built into windows as a native app but only accesable to those with a subscription, also things like music pass and what not that they can charge for.

Then something magical happens... there are no more windows versions, no windows pc versions no office versions no windows phone versions. Everyone with a Microsoft subscription will have the latest and greatest software from Microsoft. No one is left behind, this removes headaches like xp.

The windows core will be the only thing nessacry for this to happen, that minwin thing that everyone thought was pointless.

All this in theory should be seamless, even to the extent that of you sign in on someone's else device your online stuff, all your onedrive documents and the whole office suite should be there waiting. Or if you sign in on a corporate Microsoft account on your own device you will be presented with a managed environment till you sign out.

"we remain focused on delivering innovation more rapidly in our mobile-first, cloud-first world." - Satya Nadella

Instead of " a computer on every desk and in every home" Microsoft goal is now "a cloud for every device, every person, and every platform." - Satya Nadella


Edited by Attiq Qasam, Apr 26 2014, 8:12pm :

Attiq Qasam said,
software companies have seen this change coming for a while.

Of course. It makes them more money and ensures a steady recurring income.

Attiq Qasam said,

Instead of whining why don't we just wait and see what Microsoft has to offer?

Just because some people are against this idea does not make them whiners. That's the problem with forums. If someone else has a differing point of view, no matter how valid, they're dismissed as whiners or trolls. So much for an adult exchange of information and perspectives.

I have quietly moved on to Debian. Windows 8 was simply not for me. Neither is subscription-based software. But if you like the idea, good for you. Thankfully we have options for computer software, because one size does not fit all.

Frankly, and this is just my opinion, the merits of cloud-based computing have been highly overblown and the security is simply not in place.

Edited by COKid, Apr 26 2014, 8:19pm :

On the face of it at least it looks like a win for everyone one, OEMs no longer have to pay licence fees, and everything will be up to date. Consumers don't have the luxury of not having to worry about OS's and features. Businesses don't have to worry about costly upgrading because polices can be linked to Microsoft accounts, all they have to do is have a few admins. Consumers can enjoy the full breadth of Microsoft offerings with one subscription. And obviously Microsoft rakes it in big time, if it doesn't mess it up of course.

CJEric said,

Of course. It makes them more money and ensures a steady recurring income.

Yes. Yes, it does. Is that a bad thing? That's what businesses do.

I'm all for intellectual discussion and I agree that people will have different views. But you have to say that its very asinine to dismiss an idea before you've even heard what it is or seen what it looks like. That said I'm sure Microsoft will find a way to mess this up.

Dot Matrix said,
Yes. Yes, it does. Is that a bad thing? That's what businesses do.

It all depends on your perspective. As a user I'm voting (with my money) against a model where I'm forced to pay a monthly sum of money (lest I use access to the software) and end up paying more than I used to (as is the case with the Office subscription for example).

I agree that the subscription costs are too high. I think they should charge $60 a year for all the individual subscriptions:
-windows OS
-office
- Xbox live
-music pass
- a Netflix type service
-Skype
-onedrive 1tb

And any combination of 2 for $100, or 3 for $150 or 4 for $200 etc. All to buy from one central website/portal.


Attiq Qasam said,
I agree that the subscription costs are too high. I think they should charge $60 a year for all the individual subscriptions:
-windows OS
-office
- Xbox live
-music pass
- a Netflix type service
-Skype
-onedrive 1tb

And any combination of 2 for $100, or 3 for $150 or 4 for $200 etc. All to buy from one central website/portal.


$60/year for Windows is way more expensive than it currently costs. I hope it's not that much! I'd just continue buying traditional licenses for as long as possible. I probably wouldn't pay any more than $150-200/year for ALL those services combined.

Attiq Qasam said,
Why are people against this, are you he same people who are against metro.

Did you also moan when the wheel was invented? Or sob at the notion the language could be written down or laugh at the idea that aeroplane could work.

Instead of whining why don't we just wait and see what Microsoft has to offer? Your probably the same geniuses that ruined the Xbox one by forcing Microsoft to change it.

Microsoft are the best software makers in the world, and they're not about to let one of their most fundamental platforms burn, they need to move everything in the cloud otherwise windows will become a non-threat by letting it gather dust.

If this windows as a service does come to fruition, it will likely be windows 10. And sanity argues that they will offer a free base version of windows to OEMs, no more licence fees, this base version of windows will probably be just like windows 7 starter, very limited. If I remember correctly windows 7 starter refused to let you run more than 3 applications at once.

For added features, and aces to the Microsoft store and skydiver and built in security and all the other stuff Microsoft is bundling into windows today, you will need a subscription. If your subscription runs out the features stop working showing a command prompt to renew a subscription

If Microsoft are smart, they'll start combining windows, office, music pass, OneDrive and Xbox live subscriptions, similar to adobe and amazon. This is not some weird wacky new idea, software companies have seen this change coming for a while.

If they're even smarter they'll make windows phone free( like they just did) ad offer all the extra trimmings as a subscription also, so the mobile metro office version the Microsoft has coming down the pipe for windows and windows phone will be built into windows as a native app but only accesable to those with a subscription, also things like music pass and what not that they can charge for.

Then something magical happens... there are no more windows versions, no windows pc versions no office versions no windows phone versions. Everyone with a Microsoft subscription will have the latest and greatest software from Microsoft. No one is left behind, this removes headaches like xp.

The windows core will be the only thing nessacry for this to happen, that minwin thing that everyone thought was pointless.

All this in theory should be seamless, even to the extent that of you sign in on someone's else device your online stuff, all your onedrive documents and the whole office suite should be there waiting. Or if you sign in on a corporate Microsoft account on your own device you will be presented with a managed environment till you sign out.

"we remain focused on delivering innovation more rapidly in our mobile-first, cloud-first world." - Satya Nadella

Instead of " a computer on every desk and in every home" Microsoft goal is now "a cloud for every device, every person, and every platform." - Satya Nadella


Stopped reading at "when the wheel was invented". Nobody here was around for that, so that makes the rest of what you said irrelevant, and nonsensical. In my opinion.

Attiq Qasam said,
Why are people against this

Simple really, we aren't buying into any plans for Microsoft to "charge us forever" just so they can improve their bottom line, and have an ever recurring income stream.

It will not be online only and pure cloud based, if it was there would be an offline alternative not all machines are online ones.

There will need to be some form of offline activation alongside the sub based.

WaaS is only natural. You always will have an up to date OS, and you'll never have to worry that you've been EoL'd. I much look forward to this model, especially in light of XP's cut off. (Y)

Dot Matrix said,
As opposed to leasing?

Leasing? If you're referring to the current licensing model, there are no periodical payments and I'm free to use the software for as long as I'd like. Take your XP example. I could have (and indeed I have) bought and paid for XP 13 years ago and be free to continue to use it today and even into the future without paying another cent. I don't even want to know how much a 13 year long Windows subscription would cost me when Office already costs ~ $1300 in that same timeframe... more importantly, MS is free to change their conditions at any time which could result in me having to pay more or risk losing access to the operating system. No thanks.

I realize that subscriptions are *very good* news for software companies like MS, but the same is not true for their *users* as far as I'm concerned.

CJEric said,

Leasing? If you're referring to the current licensing model, there are no periodical payments and I'm free to use the software for as long as I'd like. Take your XP example. I could have (and indeed I have) bought and paid for XP 13 years ago and be free to continue to use it today and even into the future without paying another cent. I don't even want to know how much a 13 year long Windows subscription would cost me when Office already costs ~ $1300 in that same timeframe... more importantly, MS is free to change their conditions at any time which could result in me having to pay more or risk losing access to the operating system. No thanks.

I realize that subscriptions are *very good* news for software companies like MS, but the same is not true for their *users* as far as I'm concerned.

Sorry, I meant to say licensing. Looks like I was a little quick with typing. However, referring to what you said, yes, you *can* use XP, but at the same time, it's unsupported. If something goes wrong with it, you're not going to get help from Microsoft or anyone else. Worse, you won't even get support from other companies producing software or hardware. So, while you *can* use it, it's not really doing you any good if no one else is supporting it.

Dot Matrix said,

Sorry, I meant to say licensing. Looks like I was a little quick with typing. However, referring to what you said, yes, you *can* use XP, but at the same time, it's unsupported. If something goes wrong with it, you're not going to get help from Microsoft or anyone else. Worse, you won't even get support from other companies producing software or hardware. So, while you *can* use it, it's not really doing you any good if no one else is supporting it.

Windows is unsupported in general to average consumers and always has been... A retail copy of Windows came with 2 MS support phone calls. Windows support falls on the OEM...

So for the average user the only "support" they expect from MS is security fixes... They can't call MS and ask for a fix for a Windows bug. My job can, and does, call MS asking for bug fixes and MS is contractually obligated to code a fix for bugs we report within a certain time frame.

You could even make a case that being unsupported security vulnerability wise is not as big a deal for the average user as well...

The subscription model is really scary... Hopefully MS doesn't launch this.

This has nothing to do with the cloud. The OS will still have to be deployed to work properly with the hardware. It is an OS, not some optional application.

My guess is that it refers to the activation process, instead of always activated, it is only activated during one's subscription.

if that's the case, I better get used to sudo commands, because I'll be D***ED if I'll ever do that! Windows is not a magazine, nor should any operating system be treated as one IMO.

elenarie said,

My guess is that it refers to the activation process, instead of always activated, it is only activated during one's subscription.

Kind of like paying protection money to the Mob.

Hum said,

I do not make monthly/yearly payments to MS.

Nope, but you do pay once, at the beginning. The subscription will cost relatively the same, if you upgrade to every new release of Windows on release day.

Depending on the pricing and other details this could be fine.

What would be cool is if Microsoft offers a huge bundle of services at a great price. I'd pay an annual fee (if priced competitively) for a bundle including

Windows
Office
lots of OneDrive storage
Xbox Live
Xbox Music
Skype (probably won't use it though)

Maybe launch a video service too and include that, call it Xbox Video

elenarie said,
Don't they already have the Xbox Video thing?

They have something called Xbox Video, but it's only for buying things like iTunes has. I want something more akin to Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. You can't include the current Xbox Video in a subscription service since it has no subscription features.

What would you consider "a great price"?

Microsoft already offer all of that stuff now. My thinking is, you want it all for next to nothing.

If this option becomes forced, then MS will have a huge backlash. If it is an option then thats another story, though i wouldn't get behind this silly idea, as, if i have to pay a subscription to use my pc then no thank you.

pratnala said,
Oh god. Leave Windows alone out of this subscription mess. Good for Office. Not for Windows.

It's just an option (think enterprise, etc).. it doesn't say anywhere that they're removing the usual methods of installation. (Just like Office.)

pratnala said,
Oh god. Leave Windows alone out of this subscription mess. Good for Office. Not for Windows.

It sounds like a way to offer one package, think volume licensing and software assurance which have been mostly for enterprise only but now for smaller business as well. If you can pay one sub, say $100 for the year and get a package of Windows and Office together under a SA type deal with upgrades are part of it then why not? I'm sure they'll toss in other things into the mix as well like you get with Office 365, say multiple PC installs for Windows as well?

Hard to say really till we get details though.

Max Norris said,
It's just an option (think enterprise, etc)..

They're not giving you the option as far as Office on the iPad is concerned, so I wouldn't rule out anything...

pratnala said,
Good for Office.

I don't know about that...

Brad Sams said,
There will also have to be quite a bit of consumer education with the process

lol

pratnala said,
Oh god. Leave Windows alone out of this subscription mess. Good for Office. Not for Windows.

Why?

At the end of the day companies need Windows to run their business. They need it maintained and up-to-date to get things done. If they can buy that 'performance' from MS instead of buying a product then they can focus more on their core business.

Having said that, many companies have to deal with legacy software. They want to fully be in control of their ICT. So this might be less interesting than an Office subscription. Still as a choice its nice.

pratnala said,
Oh god. Leave Windows alone out of this subscription mess. Good for Office. Not for Windows.

You are reading too much into the 'implied' direction Microsoft is taking.

Windows based on subscriptions for Business and Enterprise, monthly or yearly sub with a good price and free upgrade to next OS iteration or update.
What do ye say lad?

Windows as a service has been around as long as virtualisation has. Can't see Microsoft making any inroads here, unless they are working out ways to hike up the licensing fees for virtual machines again?

pratnala said,
Oh god. Leave Windows alone out of this subscription mess. Good for Office. Not for Windows.
My thoughts exactly! I want to pay for Windows one time and not worry about it expiring. Please NO!

pratnala said,
Oh god. Leave Windows alone out of this subscription mess. Good for Office. Not for Windows.

It's more for businesses and willing consumers. Subscription based offers some advantages to the public and private. Public yes we can access stuff anywhere and because of less piracy and more cloud, better functionality with a dedicated developer team. Private it offers a constant flow of money every month for a set period of time for each months rev target. My answer to why would be why not if I'm not affecting my regular user base