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Free (Gratis) Version of Windows Could Be a Reality Soon 392

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft is exploring whether to release a free version of Windows to increase the number of computers using the latest operating system. Currently the company seems to be testing a new version of the OS called 'Windows 8.1 with Bing', which will include Microsoft's key modern apps and services."
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Free (Gratis) Version of Windows Could Be a Reality Soon

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  • Kinda funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:00PM (#46373135) Homepage Journal

    I remember when Bill Gates said that if software were being pirated, he would prefer that it was HIS software being pirated. He wanted to hook them now, so that he could charge them later.

    I guess there aren't enough pirates being hooked, so now they have to give it away gratis.

    • Re:Kinda funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:07PM (#46373167)

      he would prefer that it was HIS software being pirated

      It's not gratis - you have to use Bing. This is about "just fucking killing Google", not about replacing pirated versions.

      This thread will be full of Microsofties telling you to use Windows Bing version for all your porn surfing needs. It's their one remaining niche, aparently.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I remember when Bill Gates said that if software were being pirated, he would prefer that it was HIS software being pirated. He wanted to hook them now, so that he could charge them later.

      I guess there aren't enough pirates being hooked, so now they have to give it away gratis.

      What exactly makes you think this is a different strategy?

    • by flyneye ( 84093 )

      Never trust a whore who says she doesnt want any money, what she means is; she wants MORE money - Wm. Burroughs
      Gates didnt go to school for C.S., he went to law school...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Er, no, he didn't go to law school. He went to Harvard without picking a major and then dropped out. While there he published a paper on some relatively well-known problem in combinatorics, I believe, which certainly seems to suggest that he was not taking a typical "pre-law" undergrad course-load, either.

    • Re:Kinda funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:53PM (#46373405)

      Oh, there are more then enough pirates today, simply because there was a period for last couple of years when it was so hard to get win7. It got pirated to heaven and back during this period. Take a look at TPB, you'll find 7 in all possible flavors you could ever desire.

      Win8 on the other hand, I'd pay not to get with my new computer, which is what many today are doing by paying up to win8 pro license so they can upgrade the machine to windows 7.

      So it makes sense to give basic 8 away for free. No one who can help it is buying it anyway.

      • It wont auto update.

        In this day and age it is not worth it if you do anything financial related without updated on a Windows system. It is wiser to stick with XP until April than to do just that.

    • I would agree because when Windows is the OS being pirated, having the scammers' machines filled with viruses and adware is sweet revenge.

    • by jd2112 ( 1535857 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:00AM (#46373723)

      I remember when Bill Gates said that if software were being pirated, he would prefer that it was HIS software being pirated. He wanted to hook them now, so that he could charge them later.

      I guess there aren't enough pirates being hooked, so now they have to give it away gratis.

      I suspect that they will have trouble even giving Windows 8.x away.

  • Free as in... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Danzigism ( 881294 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:02PM (#46373145)
  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:03PM (#46373155)

    The first hit is free.

  • by Advocatus Diaboli ( 1627651 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:06PM (#46373165)
    Given the history of MS trying to squeeze every last cent out of their captive audience, a free version of Win 8.1 (even one bundled with bing') sounds like desperation.
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Considering you've always been able to get a Linux distribution for free ..

      So.. where's my insightful rather than troll like this guy?

    • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:24PM (#46373253) Journal


    • by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:28PM (#46373273)

      And what if even the free version is a failure? Can't give it away...

      • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:05AM (#46373747)

        And what if even the free version is a failure? Can't give it away...

        That's the thing. When I hear people complaining about Windows 8, it's *never* about the price. Lots of people just flat out hate the product.

        I really doubt making it free is going to significantly impact adoption rates.

        • by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @03:20AM (#46374187) Journal

          And what if even the free version is a failure? Can't give it away...

          That's the thing. When I hear people complaining about Windows 8, it's *never* about the price. Lots of people just flat out hate the product.

          I really doubt making it free is going to significantly impact adoption rates.

          If their first impression is based on trying a friends computer running "Windows 8.1 + Adware", it will probably make them hate it even more

    • a free version of Win 8.1 (even one bundled with bing') sounds like desperation

      Doesn't resemble MS to give stuff for free. So until we see the real deal, stay cautious. It's likely the offer will be something like "Free, but...".

    • by EXTomar ( 78739 )

      Yes it is especially given the context of a machine that is under $500 where the cost of a brand new Windows 8 license is large for this class of machine but doesn't seem worth it compared to just reusing your old Win7 install.

    • regular end users (e.g. like my kid) don't mind it at all. Especially once it started booting to a desktop. If the tech had been there to do cheap x86 tablet PCs that didn't get so hot you could fry an egg on them I think it woulda gone over just fine.

      Microsoft is looking at google giving away Android/Chrome and wondering if they should do the same. The Office 360 revenue is way more than Windows revenue. The only question is if they give away Windows can they sell other services on top of it that bring
      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Its actually better than that as they will NOT be losing the largest chunk of the Windows licensing fees -- OEMs will still be paying to put pre-installed versions on every PC you buy whether you want it or not.

        All this will affect is retail sales of boxed/digital copies and given how much love people have for Win8, I don't imagine that they're selling a huge number of copies through that channel anyway.

  • Ugly Stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:12PM (#46373207) Homepage

    Windows with Bing, super invasive, super troll advertising, super restrictions on what applications you can install and super restrictions on where you can source content. You just know M$ will go wildly over the top in that regard, so xbox in a computer with compulsory M$ bling 'er' bing. Except you have paid full price for the hardware and by taking free you are actually shifting ownership and control of that device from yourself to M$.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      ... and Google is some sort of saint?

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        Unfortunately in comparison even an advertising company like google is like some sort of saint.
        • Shit?!

          I prefer Windows on this one after Google due to it's creepiness ... but the GUI... cries.

        • Re:Ugly Stuff (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:55PM (#46373411)

          I'd argue the opposite. Classic microsoft was "just pay us and we don't care what you do with it".

          Contrasted with Google's "we'll data mine everything you ever do until we know that you're gay before you do" and apple's manic desire to control how their OS looks and interacts with the user, I'd argue that in this particular aspect, microsoft is (was?) definitely the best of those three consumer OS giants.

    • I am just waiting for people to get hands on it, cripple all the Microsoft spyware/adware functions, crack the usage restrictions and publish it all on Internets as an application that you just install on your cost-free adware Windows. I mean, many people already use Windows only to run Win-only apps inside a virtual machine, so paying for the license feels like a total rip-off. This is excellent if Microsoft is rolling out a cost-free version, joke will be on them.
  • by ArcadeNut ( 85398 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:14PM (#46373219) Homepage

    Keep charging for Windows, but remove the Product Activation and "Genuine Advantage" crap. Then let the pirates go wild. People will Pirate it thinking they are getting something for Nothing, and those that still pay for Windows, will be gravy for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:16PM (#46373223)

    So, Windows 8 isn't bad enough? Now they want to make it worse by turning it into an ad supported monstrosity?

    I'd be impressed with the level of idiocy if it wasn't so pathetic.

  • by JDG1980 ( 2438906 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:17PM (#46373229)

    Funny, but I never remember hearing about Microsoft having to give away Windows XP or Windows 7. (Sure, there was stuff like educational licenses, but those were for specific and clear marketing purposes.) If Microsoft has to literally give away Windows 8 to get people to use it, isn't that a blatant admission of failure? Why do they feel the need to keep digging themselves deeper into this hole?

    • .. but but Microsoft said they sold 200,000,000 copies and last year said IT IS AS SUCCESSFUL AS WINDOWS 7!?

      How could this possible be??

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:58PM (#46373421)

        It was successful as windows 7. Not "as successful as..." Literally. People bought to 8's pro license and used it to install 7.

        The word play is hilarious because it's true.

        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          Hey a sale is a sale. Balance sheet rarely have a "Why?" column. In fact when you write it like that, its absolutely brilliant:

          -> Sell OEM a standard license.
          -> Sell customer a Pro license.
          -> Probably sell them a Win7 license as well (though I'm not sure on this one maybe the upgrade is no extra charge on top of Win8 Pro? I'd be unsurprised either way.)

          So 2 and maybe 3 licenses sold based on the product sucking. Most companies would love that sort of market capture.

  • Bing it on! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Thraxy ( 1782662 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:19PM (#46373239)

    Man it's like a dream come true. Windows 8 interface AND Bing! Maybe they can bundle it onto free software downloads, like they do with the Conduit/Bingbar browser hijack. Then we won't even have to download it ourselves. Man that's top notch service!

    • Throw in a few of those lovely software bundles you get for FREE with every laptop and you're set for the ultimate collection of crapware. Hell, it could even be so bad that you can put it on display, calling it art.

  • I could use it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:22PM (#46373249) Journal

    If I had aero and the option to disable Metro or at least have it as a desktop where the desktop treats a metro app like any win32 app then ok.

    I need Windows to run apps. Sorry slashdotters I really did try to live a linux only life. I need MS VS, MS expressions web, ventrillo, star wars the old republic, and yes sadly office as my resume won't be formatted correctly with any other package.

    Windows 7 is old and aging and is not mobile friendly compared to Windows 8, iOS, and Android with its api's sucking battery life from apps utilizing win32. But I find hte disney colors of even the Windows 8 desktop madening!

    I really did try Windows 8.1. I find it so damn ugly compared to Windows 7 where I have a sigh of relife. I thought I was old and afraid of change like those on say we are.

    I guess I can use it for occasional use like Windows Server 2012 where I setup it once and run just one app at a time and then go back to my desk and use MMC to do the real work.

    But until I have my colors back and life (talking about Office 2013 too) it seems MS is extremist where they want all white, gray, and no color, and all minimalism = anti skuemorphism in that very strict interpretation.

    • If your resume cannot be formated in anything other than MS Office, your resume might need some more work that formatting.

      • If your resume cannot be formated in anything other than MS Office, your resume might need some more work that formatting.

        Oddly. It was redone and it is improved over the older.

        The one I had written in 2003 would randomly change table margins when I add or select something. I mean freaking random where the only experience close is like designing a website in IE 6 where you do one thing and all the elements freak out and go apeshit.

        So many lazy IT departments use Taleo and wont accept .pdf's as they use older versions where the MBAs who work their feel if it aint broke do not fix it. This means I need .docs and .docx st

    • Re:I could use it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:50AM (#46373919) Journal

      I tried. Really. I read your post three times. I still have no idea what point you are making. Is it that Linux sucks? Win 7 sucks? Win 8 sucks? Truth: They all suck, in their own ways. Pick the type of poison you like best. You don't have to pick just one!

      I use Red Hat Linux to get "real work" done, where "real work" consists of serving ridiculous amounts of complex data to tens of thousands of users with numerous nines of uptime. I use Windows to play video games and watch cat videos. I use Android to send texts or find the nearest hotel when traveling.

      As with most things, pick the right tool for the job.

    • by spasm ( 79260 )

      I occasionally need office too to deal with bizzaro formatting in docx (and libreoffice nearly always makes a mess of both ppt and pptx), but installing playonlinux then installing office from the original iso took about 10 minutes and worked just fine for me. And yes, the iso was paid for - this is a work computer. Needing office hardly means you have to run windows or mac.

      Having said that, I have no idea whether the other software you list runs under playonlinux/wine, so maybe for you windows really is

    • Re:I could use it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Air-conditioned cowh ( 552882 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @03:46AM (#46374259)

      I need MS VS, MS expressions web, ventrillo, star wars the old republic, and yes sadly office as my resume won't be formatted correctly with any other package.

      Office works very well with under Wine. I use it myself on Linux. Also, why would you send a resume in an editable format? Do you want them to see your editing history? PDF would be better. The page format doesn't slide around and it's universal.

  • It might work... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:44PM (#46373359)

    Clearly a strategy to erode the Chrome book. With Google clamping down now within Chrome, it won't be too long before they have a hefty market share and lock in with their Chrome Web Store. Recent releases of chrome now deactivate extensions from third parties that don't come from their Web Store, so they're corralling ISVs into their BS Walled Garden strategy which is bad for Chrome but great for Google. I can see Microsoft wanting to play in that arena as well, Bing based browser with the Microsoft Store that still doesn't allow you delete your apps though.

  • by chilvence ( 1210312 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:58PM (#46373429)

    I'm still waiting for the version where they fucking well pay me to use it. Do you have any idea what it is like to be rudely awakened from the earnestly and lovingly designed Acorn RISC OS?

  • It'll be short-lived (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Torin Darkflight ( 851576 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @11:59PM (#46373431)
    If Microsoft does indeed go through with a truly "free" version of Windows, I anticipate that it won't be long until they panic and decide to kill it because "it's diluting their profits from Windows". That's what happened to the free (and admittedly quite limited) version of Office 2010 they put out. As restricted as Office Starter was compared to the retail version, it was still "good enough" for many people, myself included. This supposedly began eroding their profits for Office. By the time Office 2013 came around, they had decided that they didn't like the idea of having a free version of a flagship product eating into potential sales, so they axed it. I imagine a free version of Windows would meet the same short-lived fate. Yes, I agree with the general consensus that Windows 8.x is terrible compared to 7 or even Vista. BUT, just like with Office Starter, there will be many people for which a free version of Windows, restrictions and all, is "good enough" for them. This will eat into their sales of Windows even further (If that's even possible at this point considering the failure that is Windows 8), and they'll panic and decide to axe it to forcefully regain their flow of income.

    With all that said, I will admit I'm curious to see how this plays out re: their method of releasing a free version of Windows. With Office Starter, it was (officially) only available pre-installed on new computers and (technically) could not be downloaded. If they release free Windows as a downloadable ISO, that might garner a little more adoption, but not much considering Win8's reputation. But, if they go the same route they took with Office Starter and make it only available on new computers, then really the only benefit would be a lower-priced PC, albeit with the added cost of having to deal with ads. Kinda like what Amazon has done with certain models of the Kindle.
    • 8.1 was really just too big to call it a service patch, but that was what it was.... and those should be free.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Indeed, and 8.1 IS free to existing users of Windows 8. But it definitely is too big to be considered a service pack, yet also not enough of an update to be considered a proper new version.

        One thing that bugs me about Windows 8.1 currently is that there is no legitimate way (to the best of my knowledge) to walk into a computer store and buy a DVD copy of Windows 8.1 (Only Windows 8), or even download the Win8.1 installer or an ISO and burn it to a DVD or flash drive for later use, it's only available thoug
  • Free 8.1? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by no-body ( 127863 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:00AM (#46373447)

    update on top of W8 that is..

    Experience so far:

    Acrobat reader crashes reliably
    Essential VPN in VMware images no longer works.

    Restore W 8 from backup

    Cost? Lots of time lost on this BS!

    Maybe they need to give it away for free so people are less upset if they get burnt - you get what you pay for and get sucked on with ads and/or giving up your privacy.

    Ah - and this BING desktop or whatever it is was never installed.

    • by _xeno_ ( 155264 )

      Sounds like your Windows 8.1 upgrade experience went more smoothly than mine.

      In my case, the upgrade replaced the working graphics drivers with ones that - well, didn't. So as soon as 8.1 got to the point where it was supposed to display the log in screen, I instead got a nice black screen.

      Fun fact: how do you boot to "safe mode" in Windows 8.*? Well, by holding down Shift when selecting "Shut down" from the Power menu. How do you do that when the OS won't actually boot? You don't.

      Even better getting to the

      • by no-body ( 127863 )

        Well, my "downgrade" from W 8.1 wasn't smooth at all. I take raw partition images as FS backups and after restore, the W 8 didn't like itself any longer and failed to boot.
        The "repair" feature of the W8 install disk was trying all night and in the morning it concluded that it can't fix itself. A W 7 install/repair fixed the W8 boot failure malaise in minutes which got me quite amused.

  • I do in-house web sites for a living. We do NOT support Internet Explorer. Why not? Because we can't affort to install virtual computers running legal versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 6 (?), Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 9. We just tell our people to use Firefox; it's availlable for free for anything.

    Giving away copies for compatability testing would be a great idea.

    (Neither can we affort a back room full of old MAC's, but I can test Safari on Windows XP and haven't run in to any prob

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Guess I will have to hire someone else then.

      It is not like there are free VM's to use [] nor are there free virtualizers available [].

      To say no to the world's most popular browser and letting your customers give a leg up to the competition whose site works just fine for their customers is inexcusably. It is not like IE 9+ is not standards compliant or anything.

      I see many who claim NO IE EVER!!! .. also make websites that only work with -webkit CSS extensions and viewed best with Chrome, yet bash IE 6?!

    • Add wine and, where stable, ReactOS to the above list.

      Where a customer reported an obscure bug that only manifested itself on a certain version of Windows, wine saved me a couple of times when writing Java client applications (Swing). Java widgets are emulated but they do pick up theming from whatever underlying Win32 platform is running.

      Anyway, I hope that you do sanity test against other free-as-in-beer browsers such as Chrome to flush out any Firefox specificity.

  • by oscrivellodds ( 1124383 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:06AM (#46373487)

    The real cost of a Microsoft OS is the hours you'll spend waiting for reboots due to "updates" and just trying to keep it running.

    My time is worth more than that.

  • Maybe then at least dogs will play with it.

  • by ikhider ( 2837593 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:34AM (#46373625)
    Windows has multiple versions of their OS, from low-end, to 'pro', to 'ultimate'. Windows deliberately makes lesser versions inferior in the hope users will pay for a better version. It is a pity they do not bother to make and offer the best version. One of the many reasons proprietary OS' must be done away with.
  • Jesus H. Fuck! Just when I thought Windows 8 was as low as they could go!

    There's no way, no how, no possible scenario where I'd opt for something like this. Even if the only other choice was "no computer".

  • by Waccoon ( 1186667 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:41AM (#46373651)

    Time to start making money on things other than Windows and Office.

  • by FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @12:52AM (#46373697)
    To bad it only works when your selling a drug people actually want. This one gives you a *reeeally* bad trip.
  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:12AM (#46373771)

    is way overpriced.

    So how much are they selling Win7 for these days?

    Anyway, what would stop you from installing that 'free with Bing' win 8.1, then installing your own choice of browser (Firefox, SeaMonkey or Chromium) and using that, with the home page set to
    (And install another file manager instead of using windows explorer.

  • I'd like to see the pricing models MS uses for pricing Windows desktop, server, Office, SQL/Exchange, and server OS & apps CALs.

    I wonder if MS builds in interdependencies for these pricing and what kind of assumptions they make on how the pricing for one product relates to expected sales of another -- ie, if the price of desktop "Pro" is raised past X, how many fewer copies do they expect to sell of the desktop OS and how many fewer copies of Office or fewer server licenses and CALs?

    My guess is that the

  • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @01:32AM (#46373841) Journal

    who really *pays* for Windoze? MOST PEOPLE GOT WINDOWS 'FREE' WITH THEIR PC PURCHASE

    virtually all Windows users got it *bundled* when they bought their Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc.

    sure we've all seen the news stories of people on Windows X release day but professional PR people can make that kind of thing

    the only reason Windows is used so much is because Gates & M$ got *****government contracts***** to put an IBM running Windows on every Federal Government desk.

    **that's** why so many people use was ALREADY FREE

    Windows is dead...M$ is dead...I know their stock price says otherwise, but thats a tremendously lagging indicator...if you judge a company by the products they make, M$ is a FAIL

  • Sorry, but I had to set up a pc for my half blind dad that just uses the PC for audio books.

    Windows 8 is waaaayyy overpriced at free. If they'd pay me 2 grand a month , maybe I would try to use it.

    I'm hoping the steam/ubuntu gaming Port gains traction. If I could play all my games on Linux and just safely surf on Linux - I would have absolutely no need for microsoft.

  • by michaelmalak ( 91262 ) <> on Saturday March 01, 2014 @03:22AM (#46374199) Homepage
    To extend an idea oft-expressed here on Slashdot, Microsoft, from its profit perspective, would be wise to give Windows away for free and then three years after a particular release, start charging for security updates.
  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:01AM (#46374685) Homepage

    What they needed to do was fix the problems with Windows 8 and lower the prices substantially to remain competitive.

    Instead they release the useless Win 8.1 and an ad-ridden crippled "free" version of Win 8.1.

    This is the signature of every truly fscked company out there. The steps needed are rather straightforward and obvious yet time and time again said companies find a way not to take them. For example it was obvious since the mid 80s that Detroit needed to produce better quality cars to avoid bankruptcy, yet a poisonous combination of management, company culture and unions prevented them from taking the obvious step.

    Even today they are not yet fully committed to quality cars in the way Toyota or Honda are.

  • by drolli ( 522659 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @07:26AM (#46374727) Journal

    One thing i actually liked about windows was that i am the customer and not the product.

  • by kenh ( 9056 ) on Saturday March 01, 2014 @11:24AM (#46375605) Homepage Journal

    A search engine company giving away an OS with close ties to it's own search engine and applications... UNHEARD OF! A game changer!

Consultants are mystical people who ask a company for a number and then give it back to them.