back to article I KNOW how to SAVE Microsoft. Give Windows 8 away for FREE – analyst

With the PC market sputtering and users still sour on Windows 8, Microsoft should consider giving its latest OS out for free, say analysts. According to IHS analyst Clifford Leimbach, a free update from Microsoft would help to win back the hearts and minds of consumers at a time when Microsoft finds itself in need of some …

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Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

Notice how Mac hardware is that bit more expensive? Partially down to manufacturing, partly down to trying to add exclusivity, partially making up for giving the OS away for tuppence.

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

Quite; the author misses the point that Apple makes it's money from the sale of the hardware so can afford to give the OS away for free. Microsoft does not have this advantage.

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

Yeah but I thought with Microsoft now going to dominate in hardware they could do the same. Guess that isn't an option when your stuff is only good for filling up warehouses.

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

Are you suggesting Google is doing the same by subsidising Acer, Asus, HP, and everyone else manufacturing ChromeBooks?

I think not.

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

Are you suggesting Google is doing the same by subsidising Acer, Asus, HP, and everyone else manufacturing ChromeBooks?

No, only an idiot would suggest that.

Google makes its money from ads. Android is just another loss leader for their giant advertising and tracking platform.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

Quite; the author misses the point that Apple makes it's money from the sale of the hardware so can afford to give the OS away for free. Microsoft does not have this advantage.

That never stopped them when they were 'beating IBM' by making MS-DOS available to all and sundry without licensing, and establishing their market share.

This is actually quite an interesting idea.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

Surface, Surface 2?

Okay, the first one bombed and the verdict is out on the second one.

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

I think the argument is that Microsoft should pivot from profiting on every release to profiting only on the initial install — the copy of Windows your hardware manufacturer licenses. Exactly the same model as Microsoft already uses for Windows Phone, effectively, with the assumption that the rise in tablets and other Secure UEFI devices will more than offset the money lost to traditional PCs as they retreat into a business niche.

Giving everyone the latest version for free has other benefits too: Apple has used it effectively to take control of its platform's development tools and to strong arm all developers into supporting the latest technologies. If 75% of your user base is running the latest thing and 90% are running either the latest thing or the thing before then there's a pretty solid case for developers to use the latest tools and frameworks.

That would give Microsoft more leverage with which to push developers towards WinRT and store-bundled releases, and therefore give a huge boost to their tablet efforts. Based on the Windows Phone trajectory, Microsoft's tablets will probably be competing adequate with Android devices on build quality and cost within a few years so if they can just find a way to get the application developers on board then they'll have a reasonably healthy pitch for consumers.

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

MS, or anyone else for that matter, can't release a product with improvements/upgrades as part of your purchase. US law prohibits a company from booking a sale if the product is 'incomplete'.

With software, anything other than updates related to operating as per the minimum requirements are provided solely at the 'goodwill' of the software manufacturer. Service packs, functionality upgrades, etc... are absolutely not guaranteed. Software manufacturers don't have to provide you with anything, nothing, other than the software starting up and 'going' on a machine that meets the minimum requirements.

If MS said you were going to get service packs (or whatever) they couldn't count the sale on their books until the service pack was delivered. That law is the reason 'cloud' offerings are so popular. They are counted as a service and can be booked at the consummation of the sale. You can release an absolute turd in the cloud and make all kinds of promises about what it will offer in the future, but you get to count the money now. You can't do that with a 'product'.

There are a variety of laws that have a direct impact on how companies sell their products. It isn't as simple as 'here, buy my thing'. Corporate accounting law has major impacts, both positive and negative for manufacturers as well as consumers.

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

MS-DOS without licensing? Wasn't that part of the anti-trust case, that with MS-DOS and Windows, they pretty much forced the manufacturers to pay Microsoft a licence fee, whether they sold a PC with MS-DOS installed on it or no?

Anyway, what MS would really like is to release Window 365. When you buy a new PC, it would come with one year of updates, but then you'd need to pay MS an annual subscription to keep the system up to date.

They've shown with Office 365 that it can be attractive to those that update regularly. It is very cost effecrive, compared to buying 5 licences of Office 2013, without the extras (Skype minutes and Skydrive space).

The problem is, that would be a huge pivot and it is hard enough to get people to upgrade from XP as it is, without telling them they need to pay for it monthly / annually.

In a world where people are moaning that their Android phone is stuck on a 2 or 3 release old version and they can't get updates, where iPhones and iPads get regularly updated, it seems strange that people are reluctant to upgrade to newer versions of Windows... The problem is, Windows XP was around so long, that people got out of the habit of upgrading and now many are so stuck in the way that XP does things, they are scared to upgrade, even when Windows 7 and Windows 8 offers many advances. (Obviously, for large corporates there are some other problems, like nobody left to make program changes to legacy code, if it breaks on a newer release.)

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

> but then you'd need to pay MS an annual subscription to keep the system up to date.

But then you'd need to pay MS an annual subscription to keep the system up to date use the system at all.

> In a world where people are moaning that their Android phone is stuck on a 2 or 3 release old version ... it seems strange that people are reluctant to upgrade to newer versions of Windows

They are not the same people.

Those with XP are probably quite happy to keep their Android 2.3.7 phones.

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Re: Except Apple aren't giving it away for free.

Free Windows might be sensible but it is just too much against MS culture to ever happen. MS is is a huge organisation, and just not capable of thinking in those terms.

On the flip side, is there any real evidence that the MS desktop is slipping ? The article doesn't cite any. Smartphone sales are not evidence. Business desktops are still MS 100%. And Google Chomebook seems to offer only underpowered machines welded into a monopoly even more complete than Microsoft's.

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Joke

"I KNOW how to SAVE Microsoft"

Then please keep it to yourself.

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Re: "I KNOW how to SAVE Microsoft"

In related news, IHS have announced that all of their mega expensive analysis are now going to be given away for free.

Oh, wait, didn't think so.

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If not free...

Then why not at a very low fee, i wouldn't pay for £90 they are asking for it here, but for say £10 / £5 i would buy a copy or 2 just to mess around with.

As they say, a bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.

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Re: If not free...

This is what they did initially with the upgrade.

If I'd had to pay full whack, I'd still be on Windows 7. But 15 quid is disposable income, so you'd see much better uptake I suspect.

Even better, offer it free/reduced to all XP owners with hardware that meets the minimal spec. Kill 2 birds with one stone.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If not free...

Or even better still, just offer it reduced to anyone/everyone until the next version is released. That would certainly help with the migration from XP, and might lure back some Linux users as well.

At £10 - £20 I'd even buy some spare copies/licenses for future use.

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Re: If not free...

That's what they already do with OEMs - if you've a big volume OEM, you can get a substantial discount. If you threaten to start seriously selling linux machines, you'll get it for almost nothing.

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Re: If not free...

£15 also makes it a disposable OS, I know a number of people who purchased these cheap licenses, installed the OS, considered it a mis-step and put 7 back on. £15 thrown down the drain, no big deal, no reason to persevere with bad rubbish and convince yourself it was money well spent.

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Re: If not free...

there are big strings attached to the £15 offers though otherwise businesses would buy a boatload of perpetual licenses and never bother upgrading. MS would lose money hand over fist without their other business licensing models.

I bought 30 W8 "home" licenses when they were cheap simply because my MS license lets me install whatever I want onto an already licensed machine (it could be win 98 even - ever wonder why win98, ME and 2000 licenses STILL sell on ebay for silly money?).

I cant see them ever giving windows away for free without a serious license overhaul that would force many companies to consider a big linux jump.

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Re: If not free...

Yep, I spent the 15 or 20 Euros for the Windows 8 Pro upgrades. It was the best money I've ever spent on Windows. 8 was a nice move on from 7, with lots of great features, and once I got used to the "Modern" side of Windows 8, it was even better. The machine was also much faster after the upgrade, or at least it feels much faster).

I hate going back to my Windows 7 work PC now.

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This is nonsense of the highest order.

It would invite another spanking from the EU trade commission and it would put a huge hole in MS income from OEM sales.

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order.

Might cause problems with the EU, but a 'huge hole in MS income from OEM sales'? Nonsense. Microsoft makes almost nothing from OEM sales. They supply it for almost nothing to hardware manufacturers as a means of ensuring their operating system is the predominant. That's the exact mechanism they used to get where they are today. Supplying Windows for free would cost them almost nothing. They make their money predominantly from corporate users of their software, especially Office and the like.

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order.

> Microsoft makes almost nothing from OEM sales. They supply it for almost nothing to hardware manufacturers as a means of ensuring their operating system is the predominant.

Which is why giving it away for free is not going to help, even a little.

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order.

Estimates vary of course but Mr. Google tells me that about 349 million PCs were shipped in 2012. Each one had a copy of Windows at a cost of $40-50 dollars each. I make that around 14 to 17 BEEELION dollars.

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Paris Hilton

Re: This is nonsense of the highest order.

> Might cause problems with the EU

Why?

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order.

Microsoft makes almost nothing from OEM sales. They supply it for almost nothing to hardware manufacturers as a means of ensuring their operating system is the predominant.

No, you're wrong. Estimates are they charge about $40 for an OEM license. That's a lot cheaper than buying a packaged copy, but it is far from free. Given that almost no one upgrades Windows at a consumer or small business level anymore, and enterprises on subscription plans, if they really gave away OEM Windows for almost nothing then the Windows division's only income would come from enterprise subscriptions. One look at their financials breakdown will show that's not the case.

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order.

"Which is why giving it away for free is not going to help, even a little."

Errrr. No. This is entirely the point.

They don't make any money from Windows, but they make a lot of money from the other software they sell that has to run on Windows, such as Office. They won't make any money from Office etc. if Windows isn't the principle operating system people use. So, it is critical they keep Windows position, even if they have to give it away for free.

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order. (Mad Mike)

> So, it is critical they keep Windows position, even if they have to give it away for free.

And if they DON'T give it away for free but keep charging $40, which OS do you reckon will replace Windows?

In any case from the home user point of view they DO give it away for free, as you generally can't get a windows-free machine for less than a machine with Windows pre-installed*. The channel is taking the hit, not the end user.

As for enterprise, a lot more arguments come into play, especially with bundled and volume licensing the OS is often free, too. Plus, in a big organisation jumping OS is not a decision you make based on few bucks per machine.

*there are exceptions but they are few and far appart

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order. (Mad Mike)

"And if they DON'T give it away for free but keep charging $40, which OS do you reckon will replace Windows?"

There are quite a few options now. However, until one can make a reasonable inroad into Windows, they won't get mainstream support. It's entirely plausible that Android could be the long term answer. After all, PC sales are on the way down and tablets on the way up.

I would also point you in the direction of the Microsoft Home Use programme. Think about why they're doing that. Is it because they're nice people? No. It's because they know that enterprises want people to be using the same products at work and at home. What business use for Office (for instance) is actually being driven by what they use at home, not the other way round. Businesses want to employ people who already have some of the skills they need. If everyone uses Microsoft Office at home, businesses will use Office as their workforce is already partially trained for free!! This is the entire business plan behind the Home Use Programme and has even been acknowledged as such by many, many commentators. Otherwise, why on earth would Microsoft effectively allow you to use a high option Office product set at home for basically nothing (minor admin cost)? What's in it for them.

The same argument applies to operating systems to an extent as well. If the employee already knows how to use something, it saves the company money!! So, Microsoft absolutely have to keep Windows the predominant operating system in the home, but it is being displaced. Tablets are displacing PCs quite a lot and they basically don't run Windows (OK, surface, but that's doing not a lot at the moment). Apple and Android own the tablet market pretty much.

If you can't find a PC supplied without an operating system for less than one supplied with Windows, you're not really looking very hard. There's loads around. Of course, they're not really the HPs, Dells, Acers etc. of this world as they have a very cosy relationship with Microsoft that involves supplying the operating system for almost nothing (if anyone believes they pay $50 an OEM copy, they need urgent medical help). OEM costs to the big players are much lower than this due to volumes etc.

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Gav
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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order. (Mad Mike)

And the same can be said for the reductions Microsoft offer on Educational and Student pricing. They don't do this because they feel for cash-strapped schools and students.

If more people are a "Windows-person" pre-employment, because it was the cheapest option, then companies will find that its the easiest/cheapest skillbase to recruit, and so influences their IT purchasing.

And before its pointed out, the reasons this logic doesn't necessarily extend to free systems like Linux are many and varied, and a whole other can of worms.

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order. (Mad Mike)

This is all nonsense.

Microsoft make most of their Windows sales from OEMs, so we can discount making upgrades free as it'll only increase sales by a tiny amount in comparison (most people don't buy Windows from retail, you see).

So we're left at OEMs. Somebody reckons that OEM copies sell at $40 each. So let's say Microsoft drop the price on it. Apart from the fact that $40 isn't much at all (a PC costs $400 for example, $360 isn't going to jump-start the sales) is the OEM really going to drop the price by $40? Nope. So yes, that's right, OEM copies are already really cheap so giving it away isn't going to make a whole jot! And the fact is that virtually every PC is already being sold with Windows 8, so how in the hell would they sell more?!

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Re: This is nonsense of the highest order. (Mad Mike)

@MadMike

Actually there are quite a few tablet pc besides the Surface Pro family and have been for quite some time. Samsung (Ativ 500/700/Tab-3), Fujitsu (Q702/704/Q55x/Q584), Lenovo (Thinkpad Tablet 2, Helix), DELL (Latitute 10), Acer, Asus, HP...

And getting a DELL or Lenovo without an OS is actually just the matter of ordering by phone instead of ordering by web shop. It won't be much cheaper (20-30€ IIRC) but it will be nominally cheaper

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I dunno, for windows 8 free seems like fair market value

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Windows 8 for Free seems pricy to me...

I need to be paid to use windows 8...

Windows 7 on the other hand is reasonably reliable, except for when it buggers up my GFX drivers because IT decides to update the drivers to ones that don't work...

I use Windows 7 as a gaming and website testing platform, everything else is Linux or Mac Os...

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quote: "I need to be paid to use windows 8...

Windows 7 on the other hand is reasonably reliable, except for when it buggers up my GFX drivers because IT decides to update the drivers to ones that don't work..."

Whereas I upgraded to Win8 as a gaming platform, and have to say that there is little to no difference from Win7 during the majority of my usage scenario. I spend most of my time on the desktop and the only real difference is the (default) background picture, and lack of Aero themes. TIFKAM is a minor annoyance that tbh doesn't take all that long to get used to for the few things I end up switching to it for.

YMMV and for many it obviously does, but I have to say that while I appreciate the inventiveness of the vitriol some people use, I just can't achieve a similar level of hate for Win8. I've only been using Windows since 3.11 (I stuck with DOS up to that point), but the last few increments have been nowhere near the level of excrement of some of the early ones e.g. Win ME.

iOS is on it's 7th iteration in as many years, yet people are still reluctantly moving from a 13 year old PC OS (XP) to a 4 year old PC OS (Win7). Hell, I'm performing that selfsame switch for users at work (who are literally only just getting XP upgraded to Win7 in some of our EU satellite offices) and some don't want to be updated, yet they'd kick up a real shitstorm if I handed them a 13 year old Blackberry (or even a gen 1 iPhone from 2006) instead of a new shiny iPhone 5.

There does appear to be a slight dichotomy between wanting to upgrade your handset every 2 years or less, but fighting to hold on to a desktop OS that's over a decade old :/

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"I just can't achieve a similar level of hate for Win8".

Not hating something much isn't much of a recommendation for using it and even less buying it.

If I needed to buy something and had the choice I would still buy Win7. That is where the vitriol and hate comes from and it is directed at Microsoft for offering something I want less than I already have.

If Win 8 were free I wouldn't buy Win 7 but I wouldn't upgrade a Win 7 I already had either.

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CLD

I generally agree with your sentiment. It is interesting how people embrace change on one hand and resist it on the other... As with Windows 8 and 8.1... I really like them (I know this runs against what all the haters want to hear). Again, like yourself, i can across from DOS to Win3.11 and have made each step along the way. I have worked in IT supporting systems back to WinNT4 and performing the same switch (XP to Win7 in my current org); Still, I remember the bitching that people had when XP came out (the XP Start Menu was different to the Win2K one and many organisations locked it into the Win2k look because their users were afraid of change); I remember when XP SP2 came out, hell forbid, but it came with a firewall and again a lot of complaints by the community.

For me, the Win8 machines are fast and fluid, i don't dislike TIFKAM, in fact I find myself using it more... i see it as an opportunity; a chance to try another working environment; I still have my desktop for most of what i do, but some apps just work better as TIFKAM apps and not desktop apps. If you're experience is not the same, that is a shame - it meets my expectations, it's a shame it does not meet yours.

As far as i am concerned, Microsoft's between a rock and a hard place: don't innovate/change - people complain. Makes changes/innovate - people complain.

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Facepalm

No, you couldn't pay me.

I'm not that happy about Win7. I have no interest in Win8

No pluses at all over XP. Lots of my programs don't work. Many of these are ancient specialist CAE stuff with no Win7 version.

I'm not fussed about upgrades, it's what to run on a new laptop that worries me. I'm getting a new dev laptop in 4 weeks and it has win 7. I'll have to continue using the old one with XP on the other branch of L shaped desk :-(

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it's not the age

> Hell, I'm performing that selfsame switch for users at work (who are literally only just getting XP upgraded to Win7 in some of our EU satellite offices) and some don't want to be updated, yet they'd kick up a real shitstorm if I handed them a 13 year old Blackberry (or even a gen 1 iPhone from 2006) instead of a new shiny iPhone 5.

That's because smart phones are on the steeper end of the curve than is Windows. There is still significant improvements ahead for smartphones, but with Windows XP, Microsoft created a decent OS that was relatively stable and had a reasonably good GUI ... and that was Good Enough. Eventually any product gets to the point where it's Good Enough.

The problem has always been, Windows 7 wasn't a problem that needed solving. There was no reason for substantial changes to the GUI for desktops. Yes, Microsoft felt they needed to get into the tablet market, and using the same kernel across all platforms made sense. Creating one GUI across all platforms was decidedly NOT a good idea.

The time is past where we hunger for the next version of Windows because it might be a little less crap. Around Windows XP SP1 we finally breathed a sigh of relief and concentrated on USING our PCs, not spending all of our time trying to make them work. Microsoft's mistake is not anticipating that this would happen some day. That they'd reach a point where people didn't really need the next version of Windows.

There's really no reason to buy Windows 8, because 7 allows us to do our work. Add that 8 is annoying and has a steep learning curve, and you've pretty much guarantee that people will hold onto their current version with both hands.

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Re: No, you couldn't pay me.

Surely you can use the Windows XP Mode in Windows 7 Pro to run your old software?

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Gav

It's called a job

"I need to be paid to use windows 8..."

Isn't that what your employer does?

Not that many companies use Windows 8 because, you know... suckage.

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32 bit OS in a 64-bit world.

Win XP is a 32-bit OS, limited to 4GB of RAM addressing and it can only cope with single disk volumes of up to 2TB. Win7 and Win8 don't suffer from those limits -- I'm surprised your CAE programs work well under XP with a limit of only 4GB of RAM, most toolmakers have released 64-bit versions to take advantage of better and more powerful hardware over the past few years.

Win8 has a backwards-capability option for older programs. I just got a fifteen-year-old design package, an old version of Corel Draw working correctly on my Win8 box by running it with a "Win7" compatibility setting. It didn't work under the "XP" option for some reason and glitched when running natively under Win8. Its sister package PhotoPaint (also 15 years old) runs perfectly well directly under Win8 without the need for a compatibility wrapper.

If all else fails you could spin up a VM under Windows 8 and run those older programs under 32-bit XP and still have a modern 64-bit OS for all your other computing needs.

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Re: 32 bit OS in a 64-bit world.

"Win XP is a 32-bit OS, limited to 4GB of RAM addressing and it can only cope with single disk volumes of up to 2TB. Win7 and Win8 don't suffer from those limits -- I'm surprised your CAE programs work well under XP with a limit of only 4GB of RAM, most toolmakers have released 64-bit versions to take advantage of better and more powerful hardware over the past few years."

You do know there is a 64-bit version of XP?

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Re: 32 bit OS in a 64-bit world.

Have you ever tried finding drivers for your hardware using 64-bit XP?

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Re: 32 bit OS in a 64-bit world.

Yes, there is a 64-bit version of XP. I don't know of anyone who runs it now or indeed anyone who ever ran it. From what I understand a lot of hardware didn't have 64-bit-compatible drivers and running 32-bit apps under it was a pain. I'm speculating wildly here but I'd guess that 98% of all Win XP installs were the 32-bit Home or Pro versions with the resulting RAM and hard drive limits I mentioned. I don't know what the market for Embedded XP is/was (I've seen some kit in the past couple of years with Win NT4 still running on it in kiosk mode and of course DOS is still king on many factory floors).

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Re: 32 bit OS in a 64-bit world.

Windows XP x64 is based on the Windows 2003 x64 kernel (exactly the same patches will work on both OSes) - and, given the considerable support 2003 has enjoyed as a 64-bit OS, XP x64 users haven't had to worry about driver or software issues for some time. 32-bit apps run just nicely under x64 - even games - and compatibility was certainly not an issue for me (even though I own a lot of software.)

What's more, I haven't seen a single Windows OS (Windows 2000 and 32-bit XP included) that beat XP x64 in terms of speed, and both Vista and Windows 7 are woefully slow when it comes to most operations (particularly file copying, a core operating system function!) Even with WD's new Advanced Format drives, a properly-prepped and installed XP x64 system is noticeably faster than Windows 7 on the same hardware.

XP x64 supports 128GB of RAM and GPT partitions (just not as a boot drive, but if you're using a SSD as a boot drive, that's not going to be a problem for some time) - and having a monster 8TB+ RAID volume for your documents and settings is no issue. There's plenty of life left in it, long after 32-bit XP runs out of steam.

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Obvious?

Yes, make it free or a token amount.

They would still make a huge amount of money from Office.

Isn't this completely blindingly obvious?

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Re: Obvious?

Not to Microsoft. Nothing is blindingly obvious to those guys, they have practically patented serial foot mangling.

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Re: Obvious?

"Not to Microsoft. Nothing is blindingly obvious to those guys, they have practically patented serial foot mangling"

already covered under most FOSS licenses.

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