Windows 365 is dead, because it never existed

Microsoft loves subscription models, heck, every company loves subscription models as they create steady cashflow. With Microsoft offering many such services in the subscription model, including Office 365, it made sense to think that Windows would be the next big platform to go down this route.

And that’s where the rumors began with Windows 365. But, according to Mary Jo Foley, it’s all a ruse, Windows 365 is not in development nor is it in the pipeline.

The reason why Windows will not go the subscription route makes a bit of sense when you compare it to other Microsoft products. Such that, when was the last time you bought a copy of Windows? Unless you are an enthusiasts, you likely obtained your Windows license through the purchase of new hardware. Unlike Office, which you may have bought at a retail location, Windows is a platform, not so much a service.

So there you go, Windows 365 is not only dead, it never existed. The more interesting bit here is that Microsoft is not looking to go down this path, from a consumer perspective, and is instead focused on making Windows cheaper.

We have already seen Microsoft lower the entry price for Windows by making it free on devices with screens smaller than 9 inches and even more so, Windows with Bing is another cost cutting effort from Redmond.

We obviously can’t rule out that Microsoft will eventually find a way to make Windows a subscription service for consumers but for now, the cards are not on the table.

Source: Mary Jo Foley

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In the Enterprise sector, Windows is all but "365" since many pay for Software Assurance to get access to new versions as they come out. For the consumer/retail market, I can see where Windows may stay as paid-only or eventually free for everyone as people pay for apps in the Microsoft Store.

Regarding Office 365, as a consumer, I'm surprised to see so many positive responses from home users. For me personally, it's hard to justify paying a monthly subscription where the newer version provides no meaningful benefit to me. I use Office 2010 at home and it's fast and bug-free. For work, I use Office 365/2013 and it's definitely slower, even on a Core i7 and an SSD hd. It also has its fair share of bugs. I think about upgrading to 365, but all I get is a ~$100/yr bill and...

I think the OneDrive budling with 365 is nice, but it's not enough of a benefit for me. I would consider getting it if they continued to bundle more services with it, such as the Xbox Music service, ad-free Outlook.com, and some other nice things, all for $10-$12/mo.

The problem that something like "Windows 365" would solve is the fragmentation problem, with people being stuck on the same OS for ten years (like XP).

What Microsoft MUST do, and SOON, is make the update/upgrade experience a LOT less painful and scary. Right now it's not only super-painful, it's scary (fails a lot), and it's EXPENSIVE.

Take the situation of someone just wanting to upgrade from Windows 7 to the latest and greatest Windows 8.1.1 ... they either have to take multiple steps (paying a significant amount of money to upgrade to 8.0, then upgrading THAT to 8.1, then upgrading THAT to 8.1.1, applying "updates" in between each step of course), or they have to be willing to just wipe their machine and re-install all their desktop apps and re-do a lot of their settings... while STILL having to apply more updates (some of which can fail).

It's excruciating, and simply beyond most people to even accomplish.

Upgrading from Windows 7 needs to be VERY low cost, NOT take all day (and night), NEVER fail, and NOT require any re-installation of desktop apps or re-doing of settings. And it needs to NOT take two dozen reboots and constant checking for more updates.

Until they can make it as pain-free as pushing a button, and waiting a bit, with at most one reboot (or maybe two automated ones, effectively one "logical" reboot), they're going to have a fragmented market, tons of people will refuse to even bother, and developers will never develop software using the latest and greatest APIs because there aren't enough people there to warrant it.

This is a SERIOUS issue, and Microsoft doesn't show any signs of addressing it.

pmbAustin said,

NOT take all day (and night), NEVER fail, and NOT require any re-installation of desktop apps or re-doing of settings. And it needs to NOT take two dozen reboots and constant checking for more updates.

If all Windows machines could were just 3 different types like a Mac or just one like a console , then what you're hoping for would be easy. The fact that Windows has to account for thousands upon thousands of different components, drivers, and account settings its actually somewhat amazing that a single disk image is able to bring such a wide range of possible combination to life. Installing 8.1 on an 8 year old Laptop, 4 year old Desktop or just built gaming Rig and it actually working, that's a feat of engineering. Same is possible with any Linux variant but the upgrade process can be just as daunting as Windows.

As far as the 8.0 to 8.1 Upgrade, The 8.1 installs are available at retail and online, no need to go 8.0 first. But Microsoft needs to just push an update to 8.0 that causes 8.1 to mandatory download and tell the user they have 3 days to install the upgrade or the pc automatically reboots on day 4 to begin the process.

IF you don't want to have to re-install all your desktop apps, then yes, you have to go to 8.0 first (I thought I made that clear, guess not).

I don't want to cause a fuss but Mary Jo Foley hasn't always been spot on with her predictions/statements about what Microsoft is or isn't doing. She is just like any other "leaker"...she has sources and they confirm/deny questions she asks.

She is like WZOR albeit more official. Just another Microsoft watcher.

Her only arguments against the idea of "Windows as a subscription" is that enterprises technically already have Windows delivered this way and Windows for residential is continually being lowered to the point of being free for new devices.

At the same point, Windows is being slimmed down and made usable by a greater margin of hardware (the reverse of XP -> Vista) which means hardware (x64 mind you) today most likely will run Windows of 2020 (just as a hypothetical example). Microsoft definitely doesn't want another XP fiasco so I could see them using it as a big selling point for Windows as a service. The hardest part of the XP switchover has been getting sluggish businesses to switch over. If they embrace the enterprise subscription model and dumb it down to language such as "Get Windows as a service for your business machines and it will automatically be updated to all new Windows editions", I could see it being a huge point of success.

It just makes sense (moreso for businesses): It looks better on the books to have the recurring cost vs. huge invoices every few years or so.

Well, I personally would prefer a subscription. Based on stats, most users don't buy/upgrade their OS. They simply get the one that's preloaded on the device. Since Windows devices last a really long time, most people don't buy new devices until their current device dies or doesn't meet their needs anymore. Because of this, Windows has to have slower release cycles to avoid people getting too behind. With a subscription model, people will always get the latest OS without having to buy a new device or wasting time going out to buy a boxed version or online. They simply would install it via the Store or Windows Update (like on our phones). It makes a lot of sense and would allow them have faster release cycles. I don't see why people don't understand that. Based on Office 365 stats, I think general consumers would love this (and me as a power user would love this too).

Im gunna be the first to call Bullcrap on this one.
Subscription based Windows is exactly what Microsoft are looking to do, as it would mean more people actually buying windows licences instead of finding other ways to get them. I would be shocked to hear from the CEO it is indeed not moving that way.

Quoting a section:

"Such that, when was the last time you bought a copy of Windows? Unless you are an enthusiasts, you likely obtained your Windows license through the purchase of new hardware. Unlike Office, which you may have bought at a retail location"

My opinion (considering most of the people I know), SARCASM MODE ON:

Suuuuuuureeeeeee... Windows license obtained through HW purchase and Office through retail location...

Sadly I had to admit that most of the people I know got their licenses through "different" or better called "alternative" ways...

I like to have my stuff original, at least in most of the cases :)

The only place this makes sense is businesses whose seat count fluctuates monthly or quarterly. Think Holiday sales, Tax season for accounting firms, and Virtual desktop shops for businesses and schools. There's no reason to offer this to consumers.

In my opinion Office should never have gone "365" either! I mean, why on earth would be want/need a "subscription-based" word processor, etc!!?

GreatMarkO said,
In my opinion Office should never have gone "365" either! I mean, why on earth would be want/need a "subscription-based" word processor, etc!!?

Are you serious with that comment? Millions have chosen to go that route instead of buying it off the shelf. Is it for everyone? Not by a long shot I still prefer using the retail version (2013 in my case) and looking forward to 2015. For many businesses and other customers who don't want to be bothered to go to the store and don't want to shell out $200-300 at once, being able to use the whole suite for $6.99/month (personal subscription) isn't that bad

GreatMarkO said,
In my opinion Office should never have gone "365" either! I mean, why on earth would be want/need a "subscription-based" word processor, etc!!?

I love my Office 365 subscription... I get an install for 5 systems, bigger one drive, and can install all my office apps on my iOS devices. That'd be a fortune if I bought it outright.

Instead I pay about 10 bucks a month. A single full license of Office would be hundreds of dollars, a hundred or so with my student discount.

LOL I can't believe you even wrote that... maybe you should look at the stats before commenting such things. Office 365 is really successful, and I love my Office 365 Personal subscription... much more value than the boxed editions :-)

j2006 said,
LOL I can't believe you even wrote that... maybe you should look at the stats before commenting such things. Office 365 is really successful, and I love my Office 365 Personal subscription... much more value than the boxed editions :-)

Until prices will go up and benefits will be reduced... Which, sometimes in the future, will happen.

There are 2 huge advantages for an Office 365 subscription. You get cloud space on OneDrive in addition to your subscription, and the ability to install it on up to 5 machines per subscription. That outweighs shelling out $200+ for a single license. Plus, if you maintain the subscription, you're automatically getting future versions included as they arrive, and don't have to shell out $100+ for an upgrade license.

GreatMarkO said,
In my opinion Office should never have gone "365" either! I mean, why on earth would be want/need a "subscription-based" word processor, etc!!?

I used to think that, and good news for you because you can still buy standalone Office. But if you need to install on 5x PCs or Macs and also have tablets (like iPads) that can take advantage of Office, then it is actually a decent value. You can find yearly subscription cards on Amazon for about $70. You can also 'share' your Office 365 benefits with up to 5 family members (so they can manage their own installs and licensing).

I think that, for the price, it would be a knockout deal if OneDrive came with 50GB instead of just 20GB. When DropBox has 100GB for $9.99/month, MS can really trump that value by offering more storage on OneDrive with access to their highly valued Office suite at about the same cost.

Another area I think they can improve in Office 365 value is removal of adverts from some online services, such as Outlook. Every once and awhile, I'll load up Outlook.com to see if I might actually start using it. Yesterday there was this huge nasty Progressive insurance ad on the right hand side. I don't want to see the Progressive lady staring at me while I'm doing email and I don't want to install an ad blocker (so don't even..). Subscription service should remove that ad, IMO.

I never like the idea subscription model and you will be ended up paying more than you thought. In fact, Microsoft should have allowed people that own a office license install up to 3-5 computer because that's how it used to be back when office 2007 and not sure if that's the case with 2013 version. Some people see it differently and you will be saving roughly $150 by the time you using it for the third year if you stick to legacy model instead of subscription style.

Edited by Master of Earth, May 28 2014, 3:20pm :

Master of Earth said,
I never like the idea subscription model and you will be ended up paying more than you thought. In fact, Microsoft should have allowed people that own a office license install up to 3-5 computer because that's how it used to be back when office 2007 and not sure if that's the case with 2013 version. Some people see it differently and you will be saving roughly $150 by the time you using it for the third year if you stick to legacy model instead of subscription style.

If you continue to use Office 2013 in 3 years, then yes, it's cheaper to buy outright, however with the subscription model, you also receive the next version. Providing MS continues updating Office, you're still saving money via a subscription vs buying that upgrade outright.

shockz said,

If you continue to use Office 2013 in 3 years, then yes, it's cheaper to buy outright, however with the subscription model, you also receive the next version. Providing MS continues updating Office, you're still saving money via a subscription vs buying that upgrade outright.

Most people and enterprise sector don't upgrade to newer version of office very often and by time it's gonna be almost 5-6 years when it does plan to do so and depending on what's the benefit of paying for updating it as well. At the same time, In case if the user or large corporation don't think the value is good enough it can avoid while still using the same office without the concern of expiry.

I jumped on Office 365. It's great. It's amazing. I love it.

Why? I save a ton of money. For one annual subscription, I get the latest and greatest office (ALL of Office, not just Word and Excel) on ALL of my devices (up to 5), and they all stay completely up to date, PLUS I get all the web apps, PLUS extra OneDrive storage. PLUS any time I go anywhere else, I can just sign in and use Office (on MY documents) on ANY PC.

Why WOULDN'T anyone want this? The price is right, the services are right, and getting the latest and greatest features immediately (instead of having to wait 3 years) is awesome.

Master of Earth said,

Most people and enterprise sector don't upgrade to newer version of office very often and by time it's gonna be almost 5-6 years when it does plan to do so and depending on what's the benefit of paying for updating it as well. At the same time, In case if the user or large corporation don't think the value is good enough it can avoid while still using the same office without the concern of expiry.

Most consumers don't upgrade due to cost, or they simply don't care, but if they're in the 365 subscription model, they'll get the upgrade anyways and continue saving money.

Also large corporations probably have an agreement/SA with Microsoft for this kinda of stuff anyways.

Edited by shockz, May 28 2014, 8:32pm :