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Windows 7 Will Be Free For a Year 528

Barence writes "Microsoft is effectively giving away Windows 7 free for a year with the launch of the Release Candidate. The Release Candidate is now available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, and will go on unlimited, general release on 5 May. The software will not expire until 1 June 2010, giving testers more than a year's free access to Windows 7. 'It's available to as many people who see fit to use it, although we wouldn't recommend it to just your average user,' John Curran, director of the Windows Client Group told PC Pro. 'We'd very strongly encourage anyone on the beta to move to the Release Candidate.'"
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Windows 7 Will Be Free For a Year

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  • Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:04AM (#27772175)
    Sounds like a good idea to me! Can't think of anything wrong with it, but I trust someone will come up with something.
    • by platypussrex ( 594064 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:07AM (#27772219)
      Didn't your mom warn you about that? "They give you one for free, and then when they have you hooked....wham!"
      • Re:Good idea (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ionix5891 ( 1228718 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:18AM (#27772395)

        Windows a gateway drug?

        • by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:29AM (#27772555)
          First they start you on 7, then Windows Server and Vista, and before you know it you have a full install of Windows ME.
          • by Gerzel ( 240421 ) * <(moc.liamg) (ta) (terrefyllorb)> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:59AM (#27773031) Journal

            ME if you're lucky. MS Bob if you're not.

        • Death to Pirates? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:37AM (#27772667)

          Windows a gateway drug?

          No it's more of a Dell drug.

          This is actually a wonderful idea for them. it lowers the barrier for the transition. Even companies can push their costs forward in time.

          But i'm thinking of all the pirates in asia. The street vendors with virus laden bootlegs will be competing against free. this will hurt their market. Then a year later what will the chinese consumer do? He could go out an buy a bootleg and re-install his system or he could buy a keycode and continue with his current system state. in many cases the idea of re-installing a system would be daunting enough to suddenly make the key code seem cheap.

          • Re:Death to Pirates? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dov_0 ( 1438253 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:46AM (#27772807)
            If my experience with Asians from less wealthy nations (esp. Sth East Asians) is worth anything, the majority of them will still just buy bootleg as that is the only system they really know or its just the way they do things. Unless they actually see a real reason to download 3gig or more, burn it to a DVD etc they'll just go to the market and buy a bootleg for 40 rupees (call it a dollar).
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            "in many cases the idea of re-installing a system would be daunting enough to suddenly make the key code seem cheap."

            The flaw in your logic is that he would have backed up and installed this version of Windows 7, so having doe it once already I doubt whether having to do it a second time would be anything more than a day's downtime. Besides, why would he go for a lime limited official version when an unlimited cracked version would give more benefits for the same price?

            Unless of course that was a funny post
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by TheDauthi ( 219285 )
          I was thinking it was a gateway bug
    • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:12AM (#27772273) Journal

      OK, I'll bite.

      This reminds of what Bill G. said about people illegally using Windows in China. MS would rather give you the first hit free
      so you get hooked. When you come crawling back for more to feed your habit then they'll charge you for it.

      Sorry but MS has violated the publics trust so many times I just can't ever see anything good in their marketing attempts.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by passionplay ( 607862 )
      Did you miss the boat? This is called a loss-leader. It's designed to combat Linux by saturating the market with a "cost-free" variant of Windows, which makes the average user go get it. "It's Windows - it must be good. It's been around for years." Then once they have you hooked, they charge you for the rest because it costs you too much intellectually to use something else. The built-in expiry means that as of 2010, you have a few million guaranteed sales of people that have gotten addicted to their Windo
    • by MouseR ( 3264 )

      Marketing wise, I'm not so sure it's a good idea. Even though it's labeled as "not for everybody", this same group will install it and will have a whole year to complain and destroy any credibility this thing could have had.

      I think it's a silly and quite risky move on MS' part.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by marcello_dl ( 667940 )

        Bad idea? It implies:
          - blogosphere ablaze with reviews. Just add a pinch of astroturfing.
          - free beta testing.
          - new users get familiar with the interface, it's time to move off xp.

        I say this is a good move. Of course it would never have happened if linux weren't good on the desktop. Their management probably panicked seeing a flawless sidux install on hd in under 3 minutes or something like that.

        • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Interesting)

          by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Thursday April 30, 2009 @12:18PM (#27774233) Journal

          Of course it would never have happened if linux weren't good on the desktop.

          Yes, it's "good on the desktop" but there are still quite a few important applications for which there is no Linux app that can do the job. This is especially true in the area of media production.

          I would have switched to Linux long ago if there was any possible way I could get my work done on it. In fact, every time there's a new version of Ubuntu Studio, I try it out on a machine in my studio that's just for that purpose. And every time, I realize that there is simply no Linux substitute for the most critical apps I use. And I'm not talking about something that's so esoteric for there not to be a market. There are more than a dozen companies that produce DAW applications for Mac and/or Windows, for example: Steinberg, Cakewalk, Propellerheads, MOTU, bias, Cockos, Avid, Sony, Native Instruments, MAGIX, Ableton, and hundreds of companies who create virtual instruments to use in these DAWs.

          How many of them have apps for Linux? Maybe one. How many of those apps for Linux actually work? Maybe none. Cockos' Reaper makes interesting use of Linux machines for offloading resource-hungry processes like rendering, so I can make use that Linux machine, but it is impossible for a professional media producer to use Linux exclusively. And if you're one of the hundreds of thousands of "amateur" or hobbyist media producers, which platform are you going to choose? One on which you can produce something or one on which you cannot.

          A similar accounting can be had for video production. So, if Linux is going to make any inroads into this small but important market, professional developers are going to have to be persuaded to develop for Linux.

          I'm a broken record about this, but there is a significant need for another professional, well-funded OS in the personal computing market. The need might not be so great if Apple were to produce an OS that was not proprietary to their own hardware. If they can make a "non-iPhone" iPhone for Verizon to sell, then they can produce a "non-Macintosh" OSX. As well capitalized and run as Apple is, they'd clobber Windows. If Apple had such an OS on the shelves last year when Vista was tanking, they would own the PC OS market today. Instead they continue to target elitists and fashionistas. They'll stay rich, god bless them, but as consumers we have to think about what we need, not just brand loyalty.

    • quoting lazarus long:

      "Anything free is worth what you pay for it."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      While the "gateway drug" thing is being joked about, it isn't very far off target. The first exclusivity contract was signed with manufacturers, because MS understood that once the relatively low "learning curve" was behind a user, that user is unlikely to look at the higher learning curve necessary to learn *nix.

      Let us remember that MS is a "for profit" corporation. Every decision is calculated to make money in the long run. Sometimes the decision is right, sometimes it is wrong, but it is always calcul

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aardwolf64 ( 160070 )

      Ok... Here it goes:

      1. They offer you Windows 7 RC free for a year
      2. You download and upgrade your machine
      3. 1 year later, the install expires and you have to purchase Windows 7
      4. Microsoft sells you Windows 7 Basic for $999
      5. Profit!!!

  • So close... (Score:3, Funny)

    by cnvandev ( 1538055 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:05AM (#27772193) Homepage
    It's just one more step to open source! I'll start holding my breath now!
  • by sskagent ( 1170913 ) <> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:08AM (#27772231) Homepage
    Well it will take me at least a year to get all my drivers updated and installed, so this really doesn't help me.
  • XP Free for a year? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mc1138 ( 718275 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:09AM (#27772239) Homepage
    Will this include XP as a VM for a year as well?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by weszz ( 710261 )

      If you do the ultimate, you should be able to download it.

      It's for business and ultimate only, plus you need to be able to do hardware virtualization as well, so my work PC isn't able to, my boss picked the wrong processor to buy us... only one in the line that doesn't do it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      "It's available to as many people who see fit to use it, although we wouldn't recommend it to just your average user,"

      Oh, I see what you did there. By implying it's not for everyone, you're hoping to get everyone to try it so that they feel a cut above the average user. It's a far slicker move than most of Microsoft's last decade of marketing who carpet bombed the PC market to get every single person alive on windows.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh, I see what you did there. By implying it's not for everyone, you're hoping to get everyone to try it so that they feel a cut above the average user.

        Well it works for Linux. Oh no, wait...

    • I believe that the VM is freely downloadable for all users, but none of them come with an XP licence yet. I read somewhere that the final release will only differ by giving Pro and upwards the free XP licence: the VM will be available to anybody who has an XP licence to stick on it. That report is not substantiated though.
    • by syousef ( 465911 )

      Will this include XP as a VM for a year as well?

      Yeah, that's about how long the poor old Pirate Bay's got left in it.

    • by Ritorix ( 668826 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:09AM (#27773219)


      "We will be soon releasing the beta of Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate." []

      "As part of the upcoming Windows 7 Release Candidate milestone, Microsoft will release a beta version of Windows XP Mode" []

  • However, Curran believes that Windows 7 has already lifted much of the negativity that surrounded its predecessor. "The positive energy and momentum is quite a bit higher than it was in the Vista timeframe," Curran conceded. "People are excited about Windows 7."

    Turn people off to Vista, then when they think you are done and they will never run anything Microsoft again, turn out a decent OS, or at least one better than the one before. Nothing makes this look better than how bad Vista looks.

  • its not free (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    MSDN and technet require very expensive subscriptions (never mind the absurdity of paying to test another companies apps)

    and does this apply to the public beta testers who dont have the luxury of handing over thousands to test Microsofts apps ?

  • Ballmer's strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:15AM (#27772341)

    This could be Ballmer's strategy against Linux as he repeatedly has said that you can't beat Linux' price.

    With this they will surely retain the market share, in a recession, for an otherwise very expensive product; it costs more than one third of a new pc.

    • by tero ( 39203 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:13AM (#27773281)

      I think it's more likely that this is Ballmer's strategy against his own failings with Vista.

      They're in desperate need of getting people off XP - it's starting to show it's age from marketing point of view and I'm sure MS would like to move to a new technological platform as well.

      It's also nice to see they've really looked at things that went wrong with Vista launch - I don't think they really can afford to bomb Windows 7 launch.

      • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @12:32PM (#27774499)

        Or Microsoft accurately recognizes that a vast majority of their revenue is from OEM bundles and is willing to take an extremely small hit from a million or so computer geeks who know how to download, burn and install a product they'll have to reinstall in 12 months.

        Either you stop using it and wouldn't have payed them anyway, or you buy it and they get your money eventually anyway. Either way they lose no money.

  • It's available to as many people who see fit to use it, although we wouldn't recommend it to just your average user

    If this is a release candidate, they are basically admitting the end product won't be for the "average user".

    • They're saying "Don't use it unless you know what you're doing, we're still bug-fixing. No more new features, but there might be some security holes. Pro's only, please."
  • I don't see what's new here. So the latest version will self destruct in one year, then what? Or maybe they are releasing it to the public instead of leaking it like they normally do?

    Nothing here, move along. Move along. IMO.


  • by Ralish ( 775196 ) <sdl.nexiom@net> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:27AM (#27772539) Homepage

    "Microsoft is effectively giving away Windows 7 free for a year with the launch of the Release Candidate.

    It's only free if you don't value bug fixes, security updates, product support and potentially all manner of issues installing software that will be released for Windows 7 RTM on a pre-release version no-one will have done significant product testing on and won't care to help you with if you run into problems.

    Keeping all this in mind, and the fact this is pre-release development code, it's not hard to see why this release is free. I do find it odd that it's got such a generous expiration date, but approaching this as a free (time-limited) lunch is probably a fairly bad idea for all the reasons above.

    If you like it, but don't want to pay for it, just pirate it. You'll be better off, and so may many others when they don't have to worry about your compromised box congesting their network, because it was exploited by a flaw MS has no intention of fixing in pre-release code.

  • Are Microsoft trying the Linux business model? LOL

  • How do we make money? Volume!
  • So, free Windows 7 for a year? What would Frank, the Homeless Guy [] say about that?

    Personally I'm going to hold out for Blake's 7 instead.

  • by FritzSolms ( 859937 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:36AM (#27772659) Homepage
    Absolutely love this on today's BBC article on Windows 7. "We were able to shave 400 milliseconds off the shutdown time by slightly trimming the WAV file shutdown music. "It's indicative of really the level and detail and scrutiny on Windows 7."
  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:38AM (#27772683) Journal
    Microsoft isn't concerned about "hooking" people. They accomplished that decades ago. Microsoft's problem is that people are hooked on XP. They spent a whackload of money on Vista, and nobody went for it. (By nobody, I mean corporations. Everybody who bought a new machine was forced to get it, but even then many switched back to XP.) Now, they've spent another whackload of money on Win7, and they want corporations to buy it. They want people to move off of the XP platform. This free windows is the bait to get them to switch.

    Frankly, I don't know if it'll work. Windows XP works fine. It's an operating system. All it has to do is run applications and manage resources. It does that well enough for most people and corporations, so why switch?
  • Dope? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dem0n1 ( 1170795 )
    So Microsoft's OS division is now reduced to copying the business plan of heroin dealers?
  • by trifish ( 826353 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @10:49AM (#27772865)

    They're not giving you Windows 7 for free. They allow anyone to use a beta version of Windows 7 for one year. And, yes, RC is still beta. Microsoft has admitted that they falsely and intentionally label the last few betas as RCs to make hardware vendors to test their hardware and write proper drivers before a RTM build is created.

    The only purpose of this /. submission is to make money on ads or something I suppose (I didn't follow any link, I confess, as I don't follow misleading and moronic articles).

  • What makes this new? (Score:3, Informative)

    by hob42 ( 41735 ) <jupo42&gmail,com> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:19AM (#27773349) Homepage Journal

    Um, they did the same thing with Vista. The RC was public and came with a year expiration also.

    Not only that, but going to the launch expos they had across the country, they passed out free Vista "RTM" discs (confusing because it was not the actual OEM or retail disc) with another year license (plus a full license to Office 2k7).

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:25AM (#27773447)

    ...when you give something away for free, and people don't want it anyway. ^^

    (Ignore their obviously coming "OMFG! It sells like crazy!!1!one(lim x->0 ((sin x)/x))" messages. They did that with Vista too. And look how it turned out.)

  • Wake me up when... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jDeepbeep ( 913892 ) on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:29AM (#27773515)
    ...they will pay me to install Windows on my box. I might be interested in that.
  • I'm quite impressed with it.

    It's a huge step up from vista.

    I particularly like the action center.

  • by Destoo ( 530123 ) <> on Thursday April 30, 2009 @11:50AM (#27773809) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft already had me at "Mark Russinovich is windows 7 principal architect".
    I was given that 'june 1st' date, but it was supposed to be june 1st 2009, not 2010.
    Background goes black on june 1st, and starting july 1st, reboot each two hours. (insert bluescreen joke here)

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