Rumors of "Windows 365" pop up thanks to Neowin reader

Microsoft has already made Windows for devices under nine inches free for OEMs, and there have been rumors in the past about the company experimenting with different pricing methods for Windows installed on PCs. Now a new screenshot that looks like it comes from a Microsoft employee's Facebook account may have revealed a new version of Windows that could be based on a subscription model similar to Office 365.

Neowin community member FaiKee posted the screenshot in our forums, which has several lines blocked out, most likely to protect the identity of the person. One of the listings shows something called "Windows 365" and described as being in "Alpha based on Windows Core". It's not that much of a stretch to speculate that "Windows 365" could be a very basic version of the OS and offered on PCs with a monthly fee. We have contacted Microsoft for comment.

The other parts of this alleged Facebook info page show that this person is also working on "Windows 9 Server & mobile edition." Microsoft has yet to confirm that Windows 9 is even being developed but some online reports have claimed it's coming sometime in the spring of 2015. It also alludes to Windows 8.1 Update 2, which again Microsoft has not officially talked about. This update might be released this August and could add Microsoft's Start menu back to the Windows 8.1 desktop.

The post mentions "Gemini", the code name for the rumored upcoming Modern UI version of Microsoft's Office apps. Finally, there's a listing for "Office 2015" which might also be released next year.

Thanks again to "FaiKee" for the tip!

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I bet this is a reference to Mohoro on Azure. MS has been rumored to be putting together a DaaS service of some type. IMO, Windows 365 could be VDI desktops with physical PC licenses thrown in to boot. Combined with Office 365 it just gives MS one more product to draw customers into their cloud offerings. It is brilliant.

I do a lot of VDI and DaaS work, so this would be a good thing to me as well. To bring Mohoro to market with a true desktop OS, MS would have to get rid of VDA licenses. That would be good for everyone.

Speculation corner......

Metro only os replacing RT, subscription based, includes modern office along with all required windows features Modernised. Additional one drive space will be included along with some skype time.

Devices will be free and OEMs will get all of the sub (since they are selling the device). Think of it like carriers in the mobile world, they get money back for the device from the monthly sub. MS will then take over the sub once the oem makes back its money plus profit and all app purchase revenue.

This will allow ms to fend of chromebooks as devices will be free upfront and the sub will be small enough to not matter to much, considering you get extra one drive and skype and updates/upgrades and office thrown in.

This really could work I think.

^problem is, you can run Office 365 with your current hardware for the next years, while next Windows OS won't. So with a subscription model that you are "forced" to use even if your hardware can't support it, meaning that in some time you must upgrade your hardware as well, thus more costs.

Praetor said,
^problem is, you can run Office 365 with your current hardware for the next years, while next Windows OS won't. So with a subscription model that you are "forced" to use even if your hardware can't support it, meaning that in some time you must upgrade your hardware as well, thus more costs.

Hardware requirements for os's haven't changed a lot since vista

Actually it has upped (not a lot, thats true) and it's only natural that future OS would do the same. I do have some clients that upgraded their machines from Vista to 7 and now 8.1; 7 was kind of slugish but 8.1 is just unbearable on those computers because, back in the Vista time, they runned great but they had a crap Intel graphics card and the CPU was dual core with less then 2GHz. Heck even my previous laptop (a Toshiba from 2008 that came with Vista) could run 8.1, but it had RAM upgrades and that laptop had a dedicated graphics card, not a Intel crap from 2008.

The problem is not only the OS requires more resources but people also install updated software that requires more resources. If i pick a 2008 era computer and only install the software from that time, then it runs great, but if i start installing newer software and modern OS then the same hardware starts to show it's age.

XerXis said,

Hardware requirements for os's haven't changed a lot since vista

It's not about hardware requirements, it's about OS driver support. I was reluctant to upgrade from XP because I couldn't be sure whether my pro audio sound card would work correctly using the latest available (beta for Windows 7) drivers.

More pandering to mobile users, at the expense of laptop and desktop users. MS must feel rather cocky when they deliberately chose to alienate customers. I'm sure Apple and Linus will welcome them with open arms.

TsarNikky said,
More pandering to mobile users, at the expense of laptop and desktop users.

Where exactly did they say that they're doing away with the traditional setup?

TsarNikky said,
More pandering to mobile users, at the expense of laptop and desktop users. MS must feel rather cocky when they deliberately chose to alienate customers. I'm sure Apple and Linus will welcome them with open arms.

How is this pandering to mobile users? Do you not think MS could provide a desktop as a service? It wouldn't be that hard to do, hell we do that already in IT in the form of VM's.

It's not impossible for MS to provide an OS that you can install to your machine like Windows 8.1 that's provided as a service. If Windows 9 rumors stand true, then you won't have much of a desktop (as we know it) left regardless.

Edited by Dot Matrix, May 13 2014, 10:27am :

Exactly. Im reading folks freaking out that this would fail and cause all sorts of problems... but its just another cog in the wheel. Put it out there and let the consumer decide.

You buy a new PC, there's no subscription. You can still out right purchases it, or have the new option to sub it like they do with office. You can still buy stand alone office applications ( I don't know who would anymore).

Whatever they call it, I think it's a great idea.

I subscribed to Office 365 Home last year and I now save a ton compared to if I were to buy the boxed edition everytime a new release comes out (also the additional OneDrive space + unlimited Skype minutes).

Unlike Adobe who forces it's users to an overly expensive one-for-all subscription, Microsoft knows how to handle the subscription model much better by providing better tiers and more frequent updates, extra USEFUL bonuses and on MORE devices. Adobe can learn a lesson.

I'm sure Windows will have a free version and a tiered 'Pro' version. It will make it cheaper for the user in the long-run and allow more frequent updates. Mainly because currently the majority of consumers don't upgrade their OS unless they purchase a new device. If their XP laptop is still working fine for what they need it for, they won't upgrade until it dies on them. This model works much better to ensure everyone is up to date.

If they force a sub for an OS... I'm SO gone....

wait a second... this could go hand in hand with the surface event. A sub based 'cheaper' surface of sorts?

Edited by margrave, May 13 2014, 1:30am :

The next big shift in computing. Don't fight it kids, or you'll be shooting yourselves in the foot, especially if you have an IT career.

Dot Matrix said,
The next big shift in computing. Don't fight it kids, or you'll be shooting yourselves in the foot, especially if you have an IT career.

A subscription OS for the average pc user will fail harder than windows 8.

Dot Matrix said,

Office 365 has yet to "fail"

Is office 365 an operating system? of course not.
Is office 365 forced on someone when they purchase a new pc? of course not.

Order_66 said,

Is office 365 an operating system? of course not.
Is office 365 forced on someone when they purchase a new pc? of course not.

Then what makes you think Windows 365 will be forced?

Dot Matrix said,

Then what makes you think Windows 365 will be forced?

Given microsofts obvious track record of treating its customers like garbage we can be assured it will eventually be forced.

Order_66 said,

Given microsofts obvious track record of treating its customers like garbage we can be assured it will eventually be forced.

Well, good. In that case we won't have to hear you complain much longer then.

Dot Matrix said,

Well, good. In that case we won't have to hear you complain much longer then.

I don't know how you came up with that logic, people don't like to be forced into things, especially when they are being fleeced and forced to use regressive software created by a law-breaking monopoly, and will complain if it happens, obviously.

The last line is also interesting: Metro UI system protecting (Windows Defender).

Is it possible that with the Surface Mini Microsoft may update Windows RT to make the desktop obsolete? Modern Office, modern Defender? And a simple File Manager is already built in the OneDrive app.

tiadimundo said,
The last line is also interesting: Metro UI system protecting (Windows Defender).

Is it possible that with the Surface Mini Microsoft may update Windows RT to make the desktop obsolete? Modern Office, modern Defender? And a simple File Manager is already built in the OneDrive app.

I personally really want an all Metro OS.

Pay to Win (dows)! New and improved with microtransactions.

9.99$ gets you 1000 token which you can use to unlock additional features like MS paint. Yeah!

Polarman said,
Pay to Win (dows)! New and improved with microtransactions.

9.99$ gets you 1000 token which you can use to unlock additional features like MS paint. Yeah!

Cute, but do note that Microsoft did away with their transactional currency.

Whilst all very interesting, I don't know many people that'd add so much detail to their job description about in-progress projects (on Facebook?!), and it's highly likely that employees sign non disclosure agreements. This seems a bit suspect to me.

Xbox 365 next ? No hardware, no software just gaming on the cloud using a controller, a tv, an internet connection and the infinite power of the cloud.

LaP said,
Xbox 365 next ? No hardware, no software just gaming on the cloud using a controller, a tv, an internet connection and the infinite power of the cloud.

Not making sense. You need the hardware and TV/monitor to see the games/media content and accessing the cloud server.

LaP said,
Xbox 365 next ? No hardware, no software just gaming on the cloud using a controller, a tv, an internet connection and the infinite power of the cloud.

MS tried to do this with making Xbone always online. I loved the idea. But, most gamers didnt so they changed it. But I was just thinking about all the discounts gamers could get if it was all like steam is. Great model for consumers if they dont mind the drm... =)

I'd need to know a LOT more about this before I'd say one way or another. Including, "who is this aimed at?" Office 365 started off being business only, after all.

TheCyberKnight said,
There a typo for the Office with Modern UX.
The project is known as "Gemini" not "Gamini".

Makes me suspicious about this leak.

Because people can't make typos?

Since everything on this page is speculation based on what readers perceive might happen, I'll through my two cents in. Windows 365 might have a free version that comes with ads and limits its use to web browsing and basic tasks, in an effort to fend off Chromebooks.

$199 Windows laptops.

That would be a good idea if MS was the only player in town. But if they came out with an Ad version, instantly you would have Google/Apple go on the attack saying MS is cluttering you with ads when iOS and Android are both free and have no ads.

seeprime said,
Since everything on this page is speculation based on what readers perceive might happen, I'll through my two cents in. Windows 365 might have a free version that comes with ads and limits its use to web browsing and basic tasks, in an effort to fend off Chromebooks.

$199 Windows laptops.

When OEMs tried to use this model for Windows PCs in the 90s, (Ad based PCs) Microsoft wasn't a fan of the model and I doubt they would implement a 'ad' based model now as they continue to move away from ads.

If you look at Office 365, OEMs are able to offer a version without a subscription and still have really good pricing, the same would happen with Windows, where OEMs would have a virtually free version and then users would be encouraged to buy the subscription model for 'upgrades'.

You are right that it is still speculation and I don't think even Microsoft has all the details locked in yet.

I don't know not really a huge fan of this whole subscription model business. For instance I skipped Vista altogether and got 8 at deep discount. A subscription model would've cost me 5-6 or more times as much as what I've paid for Windows over the last 10 years.

Obry said,
I don't know not really a huge fan of this whole subscription model business. For instance I skipped Vista altogether and got 8 at deep discount. A subscription model would've cost me 5-6 or more times as much as what I've paid for Windows over the last 10 years.

What subscription model was there with Windows Vista? If you are a consumer, you pay only once to use the operating system (unless you plan to use the operating system on separate computers).

boo_star said,
Didn't they think about this with Whistler/Blackcomb?

Blackcomb was the Internet only version.


Whistler was XP; the supposed, original plan was to have a minor upgrade to XP called Longhorn and, after that, a major one called Blackcomb. After that plans changed and Longhorn was supposed to be a major release, it was scrapped/ reset and MS released Vista. After came 7 and 8.

I'm pretty sure that's wrong.

Blackcomb was a client OS like they're proposing now, it just had way less traction, given most people couldn't load an OS at the speed they can now.

Obry said,
I don't know not really a huge fan of this whole subscription model business. For instance I skipped Vista altogether and got 8 at deep discount. A subscription model would've cost me 5-6 or more times as much as what I've paid for Windows over the last 10 years.

It depends how they do it. We recently changed to Office 365 in my work because for what we'd pay for an office license, we could get 365 for 2 years as well as hosted exchange, sharepoint, onedrive and a bunch of other stuff. And it comes with Office 2013 anyway, that will stay up to date with newer office versions.

I'd imagine a windows subscription model would be similar, you'd get more than just the OS for a monthly fee, you might even get Office, OneDrive, etc. with that amount, for up to x accounts that use the PC. It could be good.

It will depend on the available functionality both offline and online, but out of principle, I'm not in on this until I see exactly what it means.

Yeah. Details needed. I would even "settle" for 3 license. Im really loving their Office 365 Home Premium. When they came out with this I immediately though they should do it for the OS.

$99 for 3 Plain Windows 8, $199 for 3 Pros etc... (multi-license PCs)

Ummmmmmm really?
"Finally, there's a listing for "Office 2013 (Version 15.x), That could be a reference to Office 2015, which might be released next year."

And there was me thinking that "Office 2015" as a direct reference above was referring to that... :)

Wonder what 2013 15.x is...

If you thought people ran from windows 8 in droves, just wait until the pc buying public gets hit with a subscription model.

Good thing it's just an option.. you know, corporate environments, maybe lightweight setups, etc. The regular versions of Office are still available too. ;)

Order_66 said,
If you thought people ran from windows 8 in droves, just wait until the pc buying public gets hit with a subscription model.

I'd be totally on board. There's never been any coherent argument against it except for the rocking-chair-on-a-porch stereotypical anger about 'owning' what you pay for.

I'd honestly challenge anyone to come up with any other business model that could support rapid/regular self-updating commercial software that outgrows version numbers the same way web browsers have. It's either regular payments or ad-supported. What else is there?

Joshie said,

I'd be totally on board. There's never been any coherent argument against it except for the rocking-chair-on-a-porch stereotypical anger about 'owning' what you pay for.

I'd honestly challenge anyone to come up with any other business model that could support rapid/regular self-updating commercial software that outgrows version numbers the same way web browsers have. It's either regular payments or ad-supported. What else is there?

I'm not convinced there really is a need for "rapid" updates... To be more direct, I haven't even seen "rapid" updates manifest themselves on any platform OS wise...

Android gets a single yearly update that has any substantive new features...
iOS get a single yearly update that has any substantive new features...

I could possibly see an argument (though I still don't want the model) if there was a monthly new release, but this isn't the case now and won't be in the future...

Realistically, MS doesn't need to even do a rapid Windows release cycle. They need to unbundle as much of the OS as they can so they can support modular upgrades irrespective of the OS version. Similar to how Google is moving lots of its app based functionality into the Play Store and supporting Android devices across OS versions.

Additionally, I see no need to pay for "features" before I can gauge their value...

Max Norris said,
Good thing it's just an option.. you know, corporate environments, maybe lightweight setups, etc. The regular versions of Office are still available too. ;)

There's windows FLP/ThinPC client for that.

n_K said,
There's windows FLP/ThinPC client for that.

Thin clients are just terminals, and FLP is still essentially XP Embedded also working as a thin setup, and is also out of support. Not always an appropriate setup depending on the needs.

LogicalApex said,

I'm not convinced there really is a need for "rapid" updates... To be more direct, I haven't even seen "rapid" updates manifest themselves on any platform OS wise...

Android gets a single yearly update that has any substantive new features...
iOS get a single yearly update that has any substantive new features...

I could possibly see an argument (though I still don't want the model) if there was a monthly new release, but this isn't the case now and won't be in the future...

Realistically, MS doesn't need to even do a rapid Windows release cycle. They need to unbundle as much of the OS as they can so they can support modular upgrades irrespective of the OS version. Similar to how Google is moving lots of its app based functionality into the Play Store and supporting Android devices across OS versions.

Additionally, I see no need to pay for "features" before I can gauge their value...

Can't say I'm really in love with the "rapid upgrade" fad either, never seen any realistic reason for why it just has to be.

Javik said,

Can't say I'm really in love with the "rapid upgrade" fad either, never seen any realistic reason for why it just has to be.

It goes hand-in-hand with modern development techniques, like AGILE.

I mean realistically, XP to Vista did take too long and now we have a load of machines that are unsupported and going to go without updates. Imagine if those machines instead had iterative updates to bring them on par with the likes of Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Don't get me wrong, Microsoft will have to change how windows is designed and they won't be able to make massive UI changes (like from 7 to 8) without upsetting lots of people, but I think they know that.

Kushan said,

It goes hand-in-hand with modern development techniques, like AGILE.

I mean realistically, XP to Vista did take too long and now we have a load of machines that are unsupported and going to go without updates. Imagine if those machines instead had iterative updates to bring them on par with the likes of Windows 7 or Windows 8.

Don't get me wrong, Microsoft will have to change how windows is designed and they won't be able to make massive UI changes (like from 7 to 8) without upsetting lots of people, but I think they know that.

Except the pace of development really hasn't changed all that much. The changes made between XP and Vista were massive, the changes made between 8 and 8.1 were tiny. You're getting faster releases but less in the way of features.

Javik said,

Except the pace of development really hasn't changed all that much. The changes made between XP and Vista were massive, the changes made between 8 and 8.1 were tiny. You're getting faster releases but less in the way of features.

It's a bit too early to say that, Windows 8 hasn't been out as long as the gulf between XP and Vista was. Of course you're going to get smaller more incremental changes during a smaller time frame.

Javik said,

Except the pace of development really hasn't changed all that much. The changes made between XP and Vista were massive, the changes made between 8 and 8.1 were tiny. You're getting faster releases but less in the way of features.


There's a lot of value in that, you know. In fact, it's one of the core agile principles and a huge selling point for the methodology.

Rather than invest a lot of time and energy into a massive set of new features defined in year X and delivered in year X+4, you prioritize and see what features can be released in year X+1, and do so.

This forces designers and planners to limit their focus to the features with the most value, and gets them into the hands of users. The users then provide feedback (in X+1 instead of X+4, by the way) on those features, and often come up with use cases designers never predicted. Now that has a chance to impact the priorities of the next release, and could shift around what has value for (X+1)+1. It might even add a whole new feature concept to the project plan that was only discovered thanks to feedback.

Big design up-front with long development cycles is a great way to release a product that's outdated by the time it goes to market, and a great way to fill it with features that nobody may actually use or want, and there's no way to know any of that in advance because you're trapped in a design-everything->build-everything product development process.

Joshie said,

There's a lot of value in that, you know. In fact, it's one of the core agile principles and a huge selling point for the methodology.

Rather than invest a lot of time and energy into a massive set of new features defined in year X and delivered in year X+4, you prioritize and see what features can be released in year X+1, and do so.

This forces designers and planners to limit their focus to the features with the most value, and gets them into the hands of users. The users then provide feedback (in X+1 instead of X+4, by the way) on those features, and often come up with use cases designers never predicted. Now that has a chance to impact the priorities of the next release, and could shift around what has value for (X+1)+1. It might even add a whole new feature concept to the project plan that was only discovered thanks to feedback.

Big design up-front with long development cycles is a great way to release a product that's outdated by the time it goes to market, and a great way to fill it with features that nobody may actually use or want, and there's no way to know any of that in advance because you're trapped in a design-everything->build-everything product development process.

Agile doesn't mandate a change to the licensing or even the way in which Windows is seen from an end user perspective. Agile is about rapid releases to increase the feedback loop, but that doesn't mean you can't bundle up a collection of User Stories to comprise the next major product version. It also doesn't mean you turn every end user into a Beta Tester either...

A real Agile change to Windows development would be for Microsoft to have an alpha (internal testing), beta (external testing), and release channel. The Beta channel would then be used by anyone willing to download it and run it from a testing fashion.

Releases could still come every 2 years and be packed full of substantial changes that make the user feel value. They can also still be sold as they always have been...

Agile methodology != subscription based

Companies are using Agile to justify subscription based as they would love to get the added revenue and vendor lock-in perks that would come from a subscription model...

I'll ask you this: What benefit does the end user derive from a subscription model with "frequent" updates that are far from substantive? I honestly don't think there is enough between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (which was a year apart BTW) to justify paying additionally for it over 8 RTM.