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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  1. Alan Bourke

    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.

    1. mark1978

      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.

      1. asdf Silver badge

        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          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.)

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            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.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          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.

          1. Don Jefe

            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.

    2. McVirtual

      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.

      1. Steve Knox

        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.

    3. Jim 59

      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.

  2. adnim Silver badge
    Joke

    "I KNOW how to SAVE Microsoft"

    Then please keep it to yourself.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      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.

  3. Longrod_von_Hugendong

    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.

    1. John P

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        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.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          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.

      3. big_D Silver badge

        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.

    2. Suricou Raven

      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.

  4. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    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.

    1. Mad Mike

      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.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        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.

        1. Mad Mike

          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.

          1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

            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

            1. Mad Mike

              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.

              1. Gav
                Headmaster

                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.

                1. Test Man

                  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?!

              2. mmeier

                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

      2. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        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.

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: This is nonsense of the highest order.

        > Might cause problems with the EU

        Why?

      4. DougS Silver badge

        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.

  5. Chad H.

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

    1. MrXavia

      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...

      1. NumptyScrub

        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 :/

        1. JP19

          "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.

        2. 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.

        3. Ron Christian

          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.

      2. Mage Silver badge
        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 :-(

        1. Paul 135

          Re: No, you couldn't pay me.

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

        2. Robert Sneddon

          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.

          1. Test Man

            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?

            1. bean520

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

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

            2. Robert Sneddon

              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).

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. 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.

  6. Steve Button

    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?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Obvious?

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

      1. midcapwarrior

        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.

  7. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
    Joke

    Be better...

    ...offering a Win7 update at low cost to existing XP customers. Oh no, they're hoping that those customers will fork out for new machines, and count as new Windows 8 sales!

    Unfortunately, unless MS do this, many XP users will keep it until they can no longer log onto their on-line banking, and then there may be scope for persuading some of them to use something like Linux Mint (note, I'm in the process of defecting from Ubuntu to Mint Debian edition at the moment - trying to resist whims of Canonical [Unity and Mir] has finally persuaded me to jump).

    1. mmeier

      Re: Be better...

      Any hardware that runs XP and is powerful enough to run Win7 - will run Win8 even better since the system is faster/smaller

      Any user that requires new hardware to run W8 - will need that even more for W7.

      There is a very small group of cards and external hardware that rely on hardware components that only have XP drivers AND can not be replaced by more modern stuff. Those are about the only ones stuck with Win7 since that still supports the XP driver model.

  8. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    Of course it will change everything... oh wait

    So, let's say Windows 8 is available for free. We have a bunch of machines here that run reasonnably well under XP, it would be nice to upgrade them... what do you mean, "they won't run Windows 8"?

    Oh well, we'll buy new machines then, with Windows 8 for free they're gonna be cheap as chips, surely. What do you mean, "it only shaves $80 from the price"?

    Frankly I don't see a free Windows 8 giveaway making the slightest change in PC purchase decisions; it won't make a difference in "customer goodwill" as most customers have litterally no clue about the price of the OS; most don't even know that hardware and software are two different things. It could theoretically curb Linux and other Alt-OS adoption on the desktop, however I reckon most people who end up using a free OS instead of Windows do it for the free-as-in-freedom aspect, not for the free-as-in-beer one. Plus the numbers aren't exactly threatening for MS right now (as much as I regret it).

    You can't spell "analyst" without spelling "yst", it would seem. Oh look what Apple did now, surely I can sell an article saying MS are doomed if they don't do the same. After all these Apple chaps are pretty smart aren't they.

  9. Ian K
    Windows

    Got to admit...

    ...given the choice between continuing to use Windows 7 and upgrading to 8 (or 8.1) for free, I'd rather stay where I am.

    Offer to pay me to upgrade, *then* I might just consider it.

  10. Getriebe

    Win RT, maybe

    There are a rumours which I have heard from a couple of west coast sources that RT might become free.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Uhm, no?

    The only way they'll manage to convince me to upgrade my Windows 7 environment to Windows 8 is by paying me for it. And I'm not talking about a free Windows 8 license with a nice complimentary gift of $120 or so, I'm talking annual payments for a duration of 6 months or so.

    Why? Because to me Windows 8 is a huge set back when it comes to work flow. Because I'm using Windows 7 both professionally and private the work flow has become a huge issue for me. I heavily use (and favour) the recent programs list for example; whenever I'm switching my activities from documenting to bookkeeping (both activities usually last a few days) it doesn't take longer than one working day for Word to get replaced by Excel in my start menu. Which means so much that from that point on I can simply click start, hover, and either start Excel (or Word) directly or use the jump list to open one of the previous (or pinned) documents.

    Windows 8? Click start, open the desktop application and then select from either Word or Excel because both would need to be pinned onto the taskbar.

    No, this isn't only about "beancounter work", it also concerns IT related tasks.

    I've mentioned this many times already, but I don't use Windows 7 as administrator, my user account has regular privileges. So in the event I need to check up my log files (event logs) or other system related tasks I more than often need to raise my privileges. It's easy: start -> hover -> system administration -> right click event logs and then "run as administrator".

    Windows 8? I know you can right click the start button (or start location) which gets you a context menu allowing you to select some administrative tasks, but because you're already in a context menu it does not allow you to use the "run as..." option.

    Sure; there are ways around this, I'm well aware. But the point here is that those workarounds are a whole lot more tedious than the way I use in my current environment of Windows 7.

    Can it get worse? Of course it can. PowerShell anyone? Awesome piece of work in my opinion, this is no sneer. To me PowerShell is the ultimate proof that if Microsoft sets its mind to it they really can come up with something good and awesome. I often use PowerShell to quickly check up on several servers which I maintain for work, but the thing is; because I'm accessing privileged sections I can only do so when starting this as administrator.

    On my Windows 7 PowerShell is pinned to the taskbar and I can right click on it any time I need. On Windows 8 there is no way to perform that task straight from the start screen; you need to go to the desktop before starting PowerShell. In all honesty it makes some sense considering that PowerShell is a "desktop application". But wasn't the start screen the ultimate and full replacement for the start menu? So why can't it cope with such trivial tasks?

    Alas; enough ranting.

    My point should be obvious: When using Windows 8 it takes me more time to complete several routines than it does on Windows 7. Now, I am willing to take the possibility into consideration that in time you might find other ways to achieve the same results (that is something I can't say for sure right now) as such I'd settle for an annual payment which only lasts 6 months.

    But just providing Windows 8 for free is not enough to make me switch.

    In fact; should I need a new computer right now I'd easily cough up the extra cash to get my hands on another Windows 7 license and would be more than willing to invest some time to replace the POS which is Windows 8 (in my opinion of course) with my trusty Windows 7.

    Just my 2 cents on the matter.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Uhm, no?

      Right click an executable in Windows 8... notice the "Add to start menu..." option?

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Uhm, no?

        ""Add to start menu..." "

        My point being that this is a very crap piece of coding which hasn't really been tested very thoroughly at all. The start menu was probably removed last minute or something.

    2. Shagbag

      2 cents?

      ...more like a full dollar there.

      1. Getriebe

        Re: 2 cents?

        Mailer, Steinbeck, Foster-Wallace, Joseph McElroy (OK, cheap shot), Hemmingway, ShellLooser – all the great American novelists needed a good editor.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uhm, no?

      Word, Excel and PowerShell pinned to your taskbar with jump lists in Windows 8 as with Windows 7. Why do you want to go to the start screen if like me you predominantly work with desktop apps?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Uhm, no?

        >Word, Excel and PowerShell pinned to your taskbar with jump lists

        I really dislike the confusion and clutter caused by pinning applications to the taskbar. To me the taskbar is my cache of active applications, the start menu my cache of frequently used applications and the "all programs" menu for those rarely used but organised so that I can find them. Also by pinning stuff to the taskbar, I find that the taskbar 'overflows' and hence goes into scroll mode with no real user control over which section of the menu any particular application is placed.

        The jump lists display of an miniature screen is of little real help and is quite slow to display, what is more helpful (and quicker) is the text popup's XP displays when you roll the cursor over items in the taskbar (being perverse I like my taskbar to run down the left-hand side of the screen, which then causes even more problems with the daft implementation of slide out menu's in win8).

        Yes for someone who uses there computer mainly for email, browsing and Skyping, pinning app's to the taskbar makes sense.

    4. Bill Gould

      Re: Uhm, no?

      Desktop icons? Arrange the start screen so the apps you allegedly use all the time are in the first column, first row? Better still, pin to taskbar and boot to desktop (Win8.1).

      There are no "productivity" issues using Windows 8 (or 8.1) except that people don't like change, and of course poorly written legacy software that you shouldn't be using anymore anyway. Even then, WinXP VM right in your desktop.

    5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Uhm, no?

      "I'm talking annual payments for a duration of 6 months or so."

      I think that's the point where I lost the thread of your argument.

    6. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Uhm, no?

      "On my Windows 7 PowerShell is pinned to the taskbar and I can right click on it any time I need. On Windows 8 there is no way to perform that task straight from the start screen; you need to go to the desktop before starting PowerShell."

      Wrong. Select the down arrow on the TIFKAM screen, right-click on Powershell and select Run As Administrator.

      Also, you can pin Powershell to the start screen on the same context menu.

      If you're a keyboard warrior like me, just start typing 'powershell' in the TIFKAM screen and you can launch programs much faster (IMHO) that way. Just like you could in 7/Vista.

  12. arctic_haze Silver badge

    I have better idea

    Could we have a free downgrade to Windows 7?

    This could create some actual goodwill.

    1. Stoke the atom furnaces

      Re: I have better idea

      My wife has been driven mad by Windows 8 and 8.1 on her new laptop.

      A free copy of Windows 7 would be a good way for Microsoft to say "sorry" for the dogs breakfast that they made with the Windows 8 UI.

      1. Tachikoma

        Re: I have better idea

        [i]My wife has been driven mad by Windows 8 and 8.1 on her new laptop.[/i]

        Just install Classic Shell on her machine, takes two minutes, same applies for the epic wall of rant above.

        1. miket82

          Re: I have better idea (Classic Shell)

          And it's free.

        2. Stoke the atom furnaces

          Re: I have better idea

          Thank you for the tip - I will try it.

          Now if there were a "Classic Shell" to replace the ribbon on MS Office....

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

            Re: I have better idea

            The only free method is to create a "ribbon" that looks exactly like the old menu - this company has done just that: http://www.ubit.ch/software/ubitmenu-languages/

      2. CLD

        Re: I have better idea

        Have a look at your OEM license... i'm pretty sure you have downgrade rights. If you really feel the need to install Win7, grab a win7 disk and run the install. When it gets to the licensing section of the install, you make have to call Microsoft to explain the situation and get a valid key, but I never had any issues with this in the past.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          downgrade rights on Pro

          As the title says, downgrade rights only come with Pro and Ultimate licenses.

          The £15 Win8 upgrade is a special case, it is not accompanied by downgrade rights.

          BTW the upgrade has another catch - the EULA says that you aren't permitted to revert to the OS that you are upgrading from (so I tried it on a Vista machine...)

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I have better idea

        >A free copy of Windows 7 would be a good way for Microsoft to say "sorry"

        And make that an upgrade of Win8.n to Win7 (!) that doesn't require the user to do a full clean install...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ... and stop trying to make one size fit all

    As well as the proposed strategy for the consumer market, MS could also, BUT QUITE SEPARATELY, offer the corporate market an evolutionary product line that does NOT entail ever more frequent revolutions which forces changes in User Interfaces (and associated traing and productivity), genuine backwards compatibility (so that a forced upgrade of the OS does not trigger a domino effect of changes to applications, utilities, etc.), and in-place feature upgrades (so that it is not necessary to throw numerous fully functional babies out with the bathwater when upgrading to a new (and deliberately different) version of the OS.

    There would be HUGE cost savings, both in corporate IT departments, and for corporate users who have to put up with successive disorienting and productivity slashing changes just because MS wants to seem innovative for other, quite different markets. The value to corporates would be considerable.

  14. McVirtual

    Pah!

    Unfortunately they CANNOT give away Windows 8.x due to all the people who have purchased it already and the refunds involved would cripple their EBITDA / share price.

    Maybe they should consider it for Windows 9

    1. John Tserkezis
      Coat

      Re: Pah!

      "Unfortunately they CANNOT give away Windows 8.x due to all the people who have purchased it already and the refunds involved would cripple their EBITDA / share price. Maybe they should consider it for Windows 9"

      Or perhaps they should consider continuing the free upgrade policy to 8.2, which finally fixes the abomination "formerly known as metro"?

      Oh, OK, I'll go now.

      1. Tony Paulazzo

        Re: Pah!

        Or perhaps they should consider continuing the free upgrade policy to 8.2

        This!

        In fact, if they don't do this then MS deserve everything they get. They should have done it for Vista to 7, generated a lot of good will and probably gotten a better response to the abomination that is 8, knowing we could trust 'em to fix it... eventually.

        DISCLAIMER I'm running a touchscreen netbook / tablet with Win8.1 full and don't hate it - spend most of my time on the desktop.

  15. Thomas Whipp

    The big issue for business is generally the effort involved in the migration - why do it if you aren't getting any benefit?

    Getting off XP due to end of life might be an argument, but if that also requires a new Exchange, Office, etc... then the direct cash cost for the desktop OS licence becomes a relatively small part of the overall bill. Its worse for companies with bespoke internal apps who have dev, testing costs and issues.

    Also as others have said, I'd have thought any move by MS to offer products for free would get a lot of regulatory scrutiny.

  16. Gene Cash Silver badge
    Stop

    I wonder what the Pirate Bay stats are

    I wonder if anyone is actually making the effort to pirate it. I have a feeling they aren't. Nobody I know would take Win8 for free.

    Anyway, Microsoft need to stop stepping on people's balls. I bought two copies of Windows 7... one with a new laptop and one I bought from NewEgg to run in a VM on Linux for work.

    Yes, I made the effort to buy it and be legal.

    So I had to reinstall the laptop because the SSD died, and instantly it said it was pirated, despite using the key straight from the sticker. Ditto for the VM install.

    I finally had to find and use a crack to use copies of Windows I bought.

    This is why I don't use Windows 8. Not because it's a shit OS (which it probably is, but I no longer care enough to even try it) but because Microsoft treats you like shit.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: I wonder what the Pirate Bay stats are

      To be shunned by pirates is the ultimate insult. A sign of a product so rubbish, it isn't even worth stealing.

      1. Peter Simpson 1
        Thumb Up

        Re: I wonder what the Pirate Bay stats are

        Damn Pirate Bay!

        Hated by all media producers, who nevertheless religiously watch the download numbers to see how their product stacks up against the competition.

        If they manage to put it out of business, the stats go away as well...so what to do?

        The media companies should form an association to *buy* and run Pirate Bay. It has everything anyone would ever want to download, all in one place. Charge a $10/month access fee. Profit! Of course, this would never happen, but it is fun to dream, especially when Netflix doesn't have the movie I want to watch.

      2. John Tserkezis

        Re: I wonder what the Pirate Bay stats are

        "To be shunned by pirates is the ultimate insult. A sign of a product so rubbish, it isn't even worth stealing."

        Just checked (a not very extensive check mind you), it's not that bad, Win8.1 sits at about 70% of the seeds available for Win7. Win8 is marginally better at about 77% of the seeds of Win7.

        I haven't factored in available time in the market, Win7 *has* had a good amount of time in the market, but then again, its uptake had been favourable after Vista, which isn't hard to understand considering...

        It's still very telling - not that bad - but still telling.

        (*) Disclaimer: All statistics are made up on the spot, I have no idea what pirate sites are, where I might find one (or many), I have no idea what the term "seed" means, especially in the context of torrents, of which I also have no idea what a torrent is, what it's used for, or what abomination will grow if you were to grow a seed in a torrent. What I *do* know, is whatever brand of horror that grows into, it can't be as bad as metro. I'm sorry, the "interface formerly known as metro", that's better.

    2. Bill Gould

      Re: I wonder what the Pirate Bay stats are

      "So I had to reinstall the laptop because the SSD died, and instantly it said it was pirated, despite using the key straight from the sticker. Ditto for the VM install.

      I finally had to find and use a crack to use copies of Windows I bought."

      No, you call the automated line and get a new key based on the digit string your PC gives you.

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: I wonder what the Pirate Bay stats are

        "No, you call the automated line and get a new key based on the digit string your PC gives you."

        I did that once with an early version of office for a family friend.

        After punching in dozens of digits on the touch phone, and it insisting my string of digits were wrong, I installed a pirated copy. It worked, and it didn't piss me off.

        Nuff said.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Giving windows 8 away for free won't change anything.

    It is already free to all intents and purposes. Nobody willingly buys Windows. They just get it bundled when they buy a new PC.

    Windows 8 is so toxic that people have stopped buying PC's in order to avoid getting it. Many people who need a new PC are paying extra to have Windows 7 instead, so the cost is clearly not the issue.

    The best thing Microsoft could do is stop making radical changes to Windows. Most people's "ideal" operating system is fairly close to what they are already comfortable with. Consistency is the key. Making small incremental improvements results in a much better user experience than making wholesale changes that disrupt people's productivity by making them re-learn how to do the most basic simple operations on a computer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Windows 8 is so toxic that people have stopped buying PC's in order to avoid getting it.

      Yeah, they've even decided they'd rather not even have a keyboard and instead use a "tablet" for their browsing needs. They'll happily pay over the odds for an iPad, all because they hate windows 8!!

    2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > It is already free to all intents and purposes. Nobody willingly buys Windows. They just get it bundled when they buy a new PC.

      No, it is _not_ free. It happens that the price that is paid for Windows is included in the price of the computer. Just because you don't see that does not mean it doesn't exist.

      You may as well say "the CPU is free".

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John Tserkezis

        "No, it is _not_ free. It happens that the price that is paid for Windows is included in the price of the computer. Just because you don't see that does not mean it doesn't exist."

        Correct, it's not free, but it's not called the "Microsoft Tax" for nothing.

    3. Michael Habel Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      THIS THIS THIS

      Giving windows 8 away for free won't change anything.

      It is already free to all intents and purposes. Nobody willingly buys Windows. They just get it bundled when they buy a new PC.

      Windows 8 is so toxic that people have stopped buying PC's in order to avoid getting it. Many people who need a new PC are paying extra to have Windows 7 instead, so the cost is clearly not the issue.

      The best thing Microsoft could do is stop making radical changes to Windows. Most people's "ideal" operating system is fairly close to what they are already comfortable with. Consistency is the key. Making small incremental improvements results in a much better user experience than making wholesale changes that disrupt people's productivity by making them re-learn how to do the most basic simple operations on a computer.

      LISTON TO THIS GUY HE SPEAKS TRUTH!

      1. Michael Habel Silver badge

        Re: THIS THIS THIS

        And on that note... This could well apply to Mozilla too...

        Why they went and broke the "browser.download.use.ToolkutUI" in the latest Firefox 26 buggers belief!

        Why did they have to kill this?

  18. Rallicat

    We already got the 8.1 update for free - something that affected far more PC users than Mac users (yes, there are already more PC users out there running Windows 8 than the entire Mac install base).

    Should it be free for Windows 7 users too? Maybe, but I don't think it would make sense, at least not now. Most Windows 7 users have regular desktop PCs or laptops, and don't want Windows 8. It will only be when Windows 8.2 comes along that desktop users might finally be tempted.

    Windows 8.2 is being slated to potentially bring back the start menu, and to allow the use of Metro apps in a window - exactly as it always should have been from the start! I guess Microsoft must finally have taken notice how many Windows 8 users had bought copies of Stardock 'Start8' and 'ModernMix' :p

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is more to WinRT apps on the desktop than 'ModernMix'. The point (presumably) is APIs to allow WinRT apps to offer desktop compatible behaviour when running on a desktop so features like drag/drop, copy/paste etc. work as expected. This lets us distribute most desktop apps through the Windows store or corporate centre with no more traditional complicated Win32 setup scenarios. Totally crazy this was not a option from the word go.

      I don't miss the start menu but if something returns, please let it be better than that annoying Win7 version.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    and the Microsofth saw it was good

    and they gaveth away

    WAKEY-WAKEY!!!

    but hey, here's a cynical angle: there's nothing like good old FREE publicity. Ryanair knows this. Amazon knows this. Ebay knows this. Shit, even politicians, who seem to know nothing about anything - know this And now - analysts know this.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: and the Microsofth saw it was good

      The trouble, which the IHS analyst Clifford Leimbach missed, is that MS have been destroying their brand ie. the trust in their products, for many years probably since Vista and Office 2007. Giving away a product that has had poor customer reception isn't going to make it good, and as others have pointed out it could simply generate even more grief.

      No MS don't need to flood the market, they need to regain the trust of their customers, something that won't happen overnight. I suspect that biting the bullet and releasing XP-SP4 and giving XP another few years of life - just like they did with Win98 maybe a good first step and given them the marketing breathing space to deliver Windows 9.

  20. jason 7

    Well they do sell it cheaply to start with.

    I bought a load of upgrades of Windows 8 Pro for about £20 each this time last year.

    I still buy up copies for around £40 if you hunt places that haven't updated their stock records.

    I think I paid about £20 for my copy of Snow Leopard from the Apple Store (for a Hackintosh), so that wasn't free.

  21. David Webb

    Eh?

    If memory serves, didn't Apple, you know, charge for service packs? So Apple follow the MS method of making SP's free (for once, probably a once only ever offer) and someone demands MS do the same? Eh?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UEFI BIOS vs Legacy BIOS vs NSA

    My computer doesn't have a UEFI BIOS, so a free copy of Win 8 would be no good for me. Unless they made it work with a legacy BIOS. And I have a feeling NSA would not be happy with that...

    1. jason 7
      Facepalm

      Where did you get that idea?

      I've installed Windows 8 on machines going back to 2006 just fine. Very few have had UEFI BIOS.

      The FUD people give into......

  23. BRYN

    Anybody actually want a free turd? I know I dont.

  24. chivo243 Silver badge

    When my boss screams...

    ... is when we receive the $erver licensing bill. Maybe that is where the cash is made?

  25. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    What's te problem?

    I've installed Win 8.0 and 8.1 on a bunch of machines and the only people who don't like it and adapt to the new GUI pretty quickly are dodos - if they want to stay using Win 3.0 then that's fine with me ... LOL.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: What's te problem?

      I've used every version of Windows since 3.

      This is the first I've hated.

      Because it simply doesn't play nice on a desktop.

      Things you don't want will happen when you incautiously move a mouse, or things you do want can't be made to work without digging around.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: What's te problem?

      Dodos? You mean they all went on to be clubbed to death by hungry sailors?

      1. cyborg
        Trollface

        Re: What's te problem?

        "do-dos" - a derogatory term for people who actually do things of value with computers.

  26. N2 Silver badge

    But

    I dont want Windows 8 for free,

    I might pay a tenner for Windows 7 but its too slow & flaky thank you.

  27. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Not going to give it away for free

    More likely to come out with Windows 365.

    Buy a new computer and get a one year subscription free. Don't renew on time and your computer will only go to the MS website where you can give them more money.

    No more rush to release a new version just to get upgrade money.

    1. sam bo

      Re: Not going to give it away for free

      Subscription OS, what a great idea.

      Make it a Trial Version that you cant uninstall , only renew.

    2. CLD

      Re: Not going to give it away for free

      With Office365, now that its a subscription, the turn around for add-on features is quicker rather than slower. In the past, MS had about three years to code and test all their office updates and release them in a big hit. With Office 365, MS is releasing updates and upgrades on a monthly cycle... a considerable difference considering all the compatibility testing they need to do for each change.

      1. John Tserkezis

        Re: Not going to give it away for free

        "With Office365, now that its a subscription, the turn around for add-on features is quicker rather than slower. In the past, MS had about three years to code and test all their office updates and release them in a big hit. With Office 365, MS is releasing updates and upgrades on a monthly cycle... a considerable difference considering all the compatibility testing they need to do for each change."

        Yeah, I know what you mean. I run LibreOffice, and I have to upgrade every so often and that gives me new features. It's really annoying that I have to constantly upgrade though, if only they could automate that somehow. No wait, they already do that. OK, it's annoying that I have to constantly pay for it. No wait, it's free. OK, it's annoying that I have to convince people that buying MS Office through a scammed and heavily limited student copy isn't a great an option as free and legal and you still get your work done.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not going to give it away for free

          It takes the better part of 15 minutes to "upgrade" from LibreOffice 3.x to LibreOffice 4.x, even on a reasonably up to date PC. Even the point upgrades with LO 4.x require a 200MB download and 5 or 6 minutes to install.

          If I didn't know better, I'd swear that they got Adobe to write the installer for them!

  28. chris lively

    This entire article should ..

    appear on thedailywtf.com.

    Let's see, a company owns 90% of a market which is PAYING it for their product. There are no real competitors at this point (sorry linux fans, there really aren't that many of you in comparison). So they should just give away something that is literally making them billions of dollars a year? for free?

    Yeah, okay, whatever.

  29. Marty McFly

    Free Windows OS

    Take a look at history. Prior to WinXP, anyone could pirate a copy of any Windows OS quite easily. Just look at Microsoft's market share through the 1990's to see how well that worked.

    Did Microsoft lose money on this strategy? Perhaps there could be a case of an immediate loss - someone didn't buy an OS they were using. However, in the long term strategy they absolutely dominated the marketplace. Individuals self-trained on pirated copies of Windows. It then made sense for companies to buy & deploy Windows as they did not need to provide training for users.

  30. Charles Manning

    This would actually KILL Microsoft

    Although I have never tried it myself, I am assured by some that have that Microsoft installion is a complete Dog. Attempting to install anything but the Windows pre-configured for your PC (right drivers etc) will lead to an absolute mess.

    If Joe Sixpack was to try installing some free Windows download, he'd have a big chance of shagging his PC. If that happens then it would surely only spread MS hate.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: This would actually KILL Microsoft

      I have tried it myself and it works fine. It is no harder to install than your average Linux distro, which is to say you bung the CD in the drive and click on a few OK buttons and you're done.

      1. c:\boot.ini

        Re: This would actually KILL Microsoft

        @Ken

        Utter BS

        Two very precise verifiable examples with Windows 7: Lenovo L420 (a mates) and HP EliteBook 8540W - both came with w7pro

        Linux: put LiveCD in drive (Debian 7.1), all drivers including wifi, loaded - on both systems !

        Lenovo Windows: Install win7, on a different computer go to Lenovo site, wild guess what graphics card you have, because for the same model, they have intel, intel HD, AMD graphics drivers, same for wifi - note that windows 7 detected neither chipset, wifi, ethernet, or card reader, let alone intel HD graphics.

        HP: similar to Lenovo, although even with the correct wifi driver, as soon as you unplug power cord (it is supposed to be a laptop) you must reboot to regain wifi functionality, no wifi after wakeup ... a glitch in power management...

        I even once came across a windows install that failed to detect USB - I almost had to burn the drivers to a cd, thanks to my linux livecd I could download 'em from Internet to the target machine.

        Anyway, Windows is supposed to have this "look on the intertubes for drivers" feature ... it has never worked for me ... and I repair pc's (and mac's, another subject) for a lot of folk around me ... they often come to me when hard drive is totally toasted. Anybody had that ever find a driver ? I consistently use it, I am sure it will work some day for me ... I obviously only use it once Internet is configured.

    2. sam bo

      Re: This would actually KILL Microsoft

      "If Joe Sixpack was to try installing some free Windows download, he'd have a big chance of shagging his PC. "

      Spot on ! People actually buy a new PC because theirs is "running so slowly" - they are not going to try to install a new free OS, because they don't even know what an OS is.

    3. Robert Sneddon

      Re: This would actually KILL Microsoft

      No, the folks who assured you of that were lying to you. I installed Windows 8 from an OEM CD onto a homebuilt machine, it went on first time of asking and picked up all the drivers for the onboard video, USB2 and USB3 ports etc. and Just Worked. Linux on the other hand...

      The real miracle occurred when the motherboard flaked out on me after about a year of operation. I bought another similar (Northbridge etc.) motherboard from a different manufacturer and with some trepidation switched over the Win8 boot SSD which Just Worked again even though most of the drivers were wrong -- basically it saw the hardware changes and sorted them out for me as best it could. The only thing I had to fix manually was the sound system driver which was five minutes work in the end. I did have to reactivate the installation licence later using MS's automated phone deal but being careful about listening to the numbers being read out I got it right first time.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or they could put their brains to work to create a reliable upgrade path from XP to 8.1 that didn't involve installing through the 2 (3?) dead operating systems and a week of windows updates installing.

    Of course it's awkward to program, especially as windows continues to muck together documents, configuration, program files, system files, registry and disposable files, with only a UAC prompt to keep them apart.

    It is funny that the only windows OS with a properly partitioned hard drive by default is on the Xbox One.

    If upgrading from Vista to 7 was only a swap of a few cabinet files, instead of a failureprone ordeal then maybe they would have more people upgrading. And the 8->8.1 3 Gig download process that I keep rejecting suggests that they are not going to make the experience easier, just more opaque.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not going to help

    I was working for the NHS when Vista came out. There was a informal meeting to decide if we should take advantage of the fact that our trust could quite legally upgrade every workstation to the latest OS without charge under the NHS licensing agreement.

    The cost of us testing every application used by our 6k user on Vista was worked out on the back of a bit of paper, purely on the time it would require for testing applications. You know, the sort of application that involves "clinical risk" if they stop working. (ie, bodies)

    The cost of doing that testing properly, and then deploying it was not cheap even with free licenses so we didn't do it.

    I can't see the situation being much different for businesses today with win8 unless your willing to play Russian roulette by just skipping testing. Personally, i'd take as many licenses as were offered provided they were the business versions with downgrade rights to Win7. (i've still got XP boxes to replace?!)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even then...

    Why would I want a free downgrade that turns my fully functional Windows 7 workstation, into a dumb tablet operating system for listening to music and watching cats on YouTube.

    This analyst doesn't understand what's wrong with Windows 8.

    IT'S NOT THE PRICE, IT'S WINDOWS 8 ITSELF.

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: Even then...

      "Why would I want a free downgrade that turns my fully functional Windows 7 workstation, into a dumb tablet operating system for listening to music and watching cats on YouTube."

      After the 3+Gig download for the 8.1 upgrade, you won't have enough bandwidth left over to watch cat videos on youtube.

      Sorry.

  34. morgannick2000

    Yes give it away for free..... genius!!

    £208 for a single Windows 8 pro license for a small business, around £30 for a multi-national. It would certainly be welcome in the small business world. MS could make their revenue up with Office Pro Plus as £480 a pop!! They should give it away it all about selling apps onto the platform anyway these days...

    1. jason 7

      Re: Yes give it away for free..... genius!!

      Why are you paying all that for 8 pro?

      I get them for £50 on average. Also I'm not a corporation, just a one man band.

  35. hplasm Silver badge
    Meh

    Windows is only free-

    If your time is worth the square root of fuck-all.

  36. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    I suppose the menial type responses are predictable but what about funding the initiative from MS advertising budget?

    a years advertisung budget can go a long, long way to restore what appears to be lacking in ms corporate identity no ?

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "say Analysts."

    Analysts?

    The only people who are even less use than consultants.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "say Analysts."

      I down-voted you, not because you hit analysts, but you imply that consultants are useless. It all depends ... Accenture consultants are on par with analysts - waste of space (not that you would ever read their sewage/listen to them, I hope). Similar for all the other big consulting companies ... but get an automation consultant in and he will make your daily life easier.

  38. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Won't happen

    Two reasons

    1) MS has complained long and hard enough that the ZERO cost of Linux is predatory and ruining their bottom line. Fine except that their annual reports say something else

    2) MS Are a defacto monopoly. For a monopoly to start selling or even giving away something that is equal to or below cost then that will start many people in organisations such as The competition Commission and lany bits of the EC will probably stop them from doing this because it is a clear abuse of their monopoly.

    Apple can get away with this because of their market share does not make them a monopoly. Even IOS updates have been free or very very cheap since day 1.

    Android has been free since day 1.

    That makes any move by MS IMHO doomed from the outset.

  39. phil dude
    Flame

    screw free, I want MY money back....

    Everyone here who as bought a PC that can with preinstalled windoze has paid for the privilege. Maybe it is only $10 but they charge >> $10. In any other industry it could be considered dumping.

    P.

  40. DougS Silver badge

    I wonder if Microsoft would actually lose any money at all with this plan?

    So few people upgrade Windows as it is, this wouldn't cost them much at all. In the days of Windows 95, sure, people upgraded all the time. But what reason does someone have to upgrade a PC that came with Windows 7?

    There's nothing a PC that shipped with Windows 7 can't do that Windows 8 can, it isn't like applications or games are requiring Windows 8 or there were a ton of laptops sold with dormant touch capability people are dying to enable with Windows 8.

    Personally I wouldn't "upgrade" my Windows 7 partition to Windows 8 even if it were free, so they might not want to try that idea because if the uptake wasn't too great it would be a marketing fiasco.

  41. Paul Bartlett

    Revert to Windows 7 Start Menu

    Don;t give it away, just give us the Windows 7 start menu back.

    I am positive Windows 8 will be a flop until they put back the old start menu. The 3rd party replacements are not as good.

    Apple was bold and brought out the Launchpad for OSX. This was a similar departure as is the Windows 8 start menu. But guess what, nobody uses it and fortunately it is not the default mode. But they didn't remove the Applications menu. If they did as Win 8, there would be a lot of unhappy Apple bunnies.

  42. Adam 1 Silver badge

    No need to give it away. Just reinstate the start MENU from Windows 7 and provide the option to stop showing TIFKAM for the vast majority of PCs without touch.

  43. CheesyTheClown

    Save Microsoft?

    I just checked their annual revenues and it seems that for the past 3 years at least, they have made a $20 billion net profit.

    At which point was Microsoft in trouble and needing saving?

    Oh... you're talking about the share which really has nothing to do with how well the company is doing?

  44. Joe Burmeister

    This is against MS's core.

    Read Gate's "Open Letter to Hobbyists", this just isn't in the companies nature.

    The whole point of the company is to make money selling software and that software is Windows and Office.

    I wonder what the world would look like if they had been split, one company selling the OS (Windows), the other software for that OS (Office). I don't think both would have continued to dominate. I think Office would be running on everything and people would use which ever OS ran Office the cheapest/best (so probably Linux). Maybe realising Office is more important than Windows could save MS, and they could give away Windows and still be the MS we all love to hate.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Free? it's how Windows became dominant in the first place

    In the early days of Windows Microsoft bundled it free with everything it could, I can remember the IT department where I was working having stacks of Windows floppies, it came with every mouse we bought and lots of other stuff too, it did the trick because it bought them market penetration in the early days, now while sales are flagging putting a lot of free copies out there (or even just giveaway price cheap) could kick start usage again.

    1. mmeier

      Re: Free? it's how Windows became dominant in the first place

      The fine details you forget to tell us:

      The bundled copy was Win1.x/2.x that required DOS to run

      The Win1.x/2.x had a very limited program base

      Starting with the Win3.x DOS-Externders they cost money. And the NT line never was for free

  46. Moosh
    Go

    Not so "out there"

    Microsoft have outright stated before that they'd rather people Pirated their software than not use it at all.

    This is just that concept taken to a logical extreme.

  47. GeorgeOrr

    Not worth the price

    Not a bad idea, but even if MS decides to give Win 8 away free, it's still overpriced for what you get.

  48. Slx

    I don't know why they're comparing to Apple on this one.

    MS doesn't make hardware!

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > MS doesn't make hardware!

      Z80 Softcard, mice, keyboards, XBox, watches, Surface.

  49. ben_myers

    Close, but no cigar

    Give away Windows 8.1! That's eight-point-one, the release that goes a long way toward making a non-touch computer useful again. If if that's not enough, users can always install ClassicShell... Ben

  50. Lost in Cyberspace

    Microsoft Account

    Or 'effectively' give it away for free by bundling it with windows store credit. Gets people hooked in the Microsoft ecosystem.

  51. c:\boot.ini
    Windows

    Would not even take it for money

    I would not even take it for money!

    Say, MS paid me my monthly salary for me to sit at home and be forced to use it daily, no, thank you very much ...

    I got shivers when back in the days when I had to repair FisherPriceOS® aka XP, I since avoid the pests as much as possible.

  52. Uplink

    Not free... They're a business.

    They're a business, so unless they can make up the shortfall from other sources, free giveaways isn't an option - even though that's what got MS Windows popular to begin with (albeit a bit without official permission).

    But, say, a price of 20-29 pounds (above 29, even if it's 29.01 or 29.99, and you lose me), and I'll buy it when I need it. And I'm not using Windows except in a virtual machine, when I have to run some Windows software to configure some hardware, and I have no Linux option. I have a Mac as well, so I don't boot my XP VM very often at all, as most Windows software houses also publish for Mac. I paid 22 quid for my XP (retail French edition, regeditted to accept the English SP3, so now it's a mix of languages, mostly English, but still with some French in it). And then MS didn't get a single penny out of my 22 quid because they're not selling anything in that price range. I'm OCD enough to avoid pirate software unless there really isn't any other way to get the job done for that throwaway case I can't use Linux for (which means paying lots of cash for software does not make business sense). I haven't pirated anything in many years by the way - the one case that may have required a pirate copy came with a trial version of their software - and I ended up not using it anyway, because it didn't suite my needs (was beaten by vim if you can believe it).

    I paid 13 quid for a OS X update after I got my used Mac without batting an eyelid, because friggin' Xcode wouldn't run on 10.6, and I needed Xcode. To me Mavericks really is free :) When I do need to be reminded of the stupid OS that is W8, I boot an image from modern.ie in a VM - none have survived more than 4 hours so far. And I'm an avid Ubuntu Unity user (in 2D, with XfWM instead of copiz or metacity - those are slow as hell), which as far as I can tell receives a lot of hate...

  53. Col_Panek
    Meh

    Alternatives?

    Hmmmmm, Windows vs. Linux. Open source, no backdoors, fast, malware-resistant, lightweight, configurable, vs. Windows? Same price?? Well, no contest.

    Wait, you mean they CHARGE for Windows now?? Oh, well, I should go for that, then, if you get Linux free it can't be worth anything, but if you pay for Windows, you get what you pay for.

    Right?

  54. Grogan

    It's not the cost of Windows 8.x that's the problem, it's how shitty it is. I wouldn't use it if you paid me $100/month. My time is more valuable to me than that.

    It's time for these predators to go away. They bet the farm on trying to force a change in the computing industry, to one with dumbed down devices that protect themselves from YOU, with more lock-in and control for Microsoft, with parasitic profits made from developers selling software in the Microsoft Store. That's what that shit is all designed for.

    How's that working out for you Microsoft? People are still sticking with their PCs, not buying into your model of correctness and you're having to constantly back pedal to pretend to be listening to your customers while trying to figure out how to get away with this.

    Let them fail. They are already starting to lose.

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