Could Microsoft be working on plans to give away their cash-cow Windows operating system for free? According to several reliable sources, the answer could be yes.
It’s no secret that Microsoft’s share of the operating system market is dwindling by the day, and it all started way back with the release of Apple’s first iPad. The guys and gals in Redmond apparently thought users would consider tablet PCs to be toys, not suitable replacements for desktop and laptop computers.
Well, they were wrong, and by the time they realized it the genie was already out of the bottle.
As they stood by and watched tablets and smart phones running iOS and Android gobble up an ever-increasing amount of computer market share, Microsoft eventually figured out that they had to do something to try to get a foothold in that emerging market.
The answer they came up with was Windows 8, a lame attempt to merge the distinct worlds of mobile devices and full-blown computers into one by creating a new common user interface that looks and feels the same on both types of devices. That attempt failed rather miserably as computer users quickly learned to despise Windows 8 and mobile users decided they simply liked their iPhones, iPads and Android devices too much to even give devices running Windows 8 a try.
To their credit, Microsoft did listen to their disgruntled Windows PC users and release Windows 8.1 in order to try to appease them, but again it was simply too late.
Smart phones and tablets have now replaced laptop and desktop PCs for millions of users, and most of them are likely to never purchase another “real computer” again.
To make matters even worse for Microsoft, Chromebooks (laptops running the Google Chrome operating system) now account for a whopping 50% of all sales of notebook computers on Amazon. In fact, the number one seller of all laptops on Amazon doesn’t run Windows. It’s a Chromebook sold by Samsung.
And things will surely get even worse for Microsoft as more and more people make the switch from traditional PCs to mobile devices. The unexpected success of Microsoft’s Surface tablet has helped slow the oncoming train just a bit, but it’s easy to foresee the inevitable unless Microsoft does something to stop it in its tracks. And according to leaks from folks who have been pretty reliable in the past, they’re making plans that will (hopefully) do just that.
Rumor has it that Microsoft is planning to drop the cost of each Windows license sold to PC manufacturers from the estimated $30-$50 per PC all the way down to just $15, and possibly even give away Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 licenses to makers of mobile devices for free.
That indeed sounds like a good plan for retaining (and possibly even increasing) their overall market share, but how it will impact the all-important bottom line remains to be seen.