Why has Windows gone free (literally)?

Windows 8 is up for grabs. It is available for download on its official web-page. When you visit the page you are welcome with a offer no one would like to give a miss – $39.99 in US (£24.99 in UK, INR 2000 in India). Unless Bill and Melinda has financed Microsoft to give it away at this dirt cheap prices, there is no way Microsoft is ever going to give away this much discount. This is not all, people have also reported that there are some ways you can get it at £14.99 in UK (INR 699 in India), now that is FREE (literally) considering original price will hover around $100 in US (£80 in UK, INR 10 in India).

For Windows 8, Microsoft has given a lot of freebies. Initially there was Developer Preview, which would have been downloaded by a good amount of developers and geeks to get first hands-on. Then came the Consumer Preview. This is not a new thing, many big organizations need real-life Beta testing so give away their product for FREE for limited time. I’m sure hackers and crackers would’ve made a full version out of it i.e. no date limit before it goes away.

Now here comes Windows 8 Pro at a price, no one would ever imagine. Even while upgrading they don’t verify the Windows license, which means you can upgrade your cracked, hacked and pirated version of Windows for literally free. Why is that?

I’ve given some thought and can think there is more than one reason to do so. This is my hypothesis, believing it is your own will.

  • Why no check for Windows License: It does not check for valid license, even if it states “Each upgrade license applies to only one PC and you can install the upgrade only on PCs that have a valid base license and one of the following operating systems: Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP (SP3).” Let’s Kill Piracy! is the best words I can see. Given at this price, many people will be tempted to purchase it. Those who prefer original will also like it and even at any price higher. Buying this is like missing a meal in a decent hotel because even for a pirated version you download a .ISO file and then burn it to install. Then too not sure if it’ll work because of Windows Genuine Advantage check, CD-Key may not work, anti-virus detects the crack and deletes it. Using it you are just downloading and burning DVD and making your Windows a legal without any headache. Now any pirated version will also become a legal version at a minimal price. (This idea was in talks to make pirated version legal by paying minimum amount, don’t know what happened to that idea but its here with upgrade).
  • Price is too good to reject: Have you noticed, this is upgrade offer. So, how does it matter, I’m getting legal Windows 8. Well, this is the catch probably that this is a upgrade offer. The CD-Key provided may not work with a clean-install. I’ve not tried, so can’t comment. Next time you format and want to do a clean-install, this key may not work. It clearly states “To install Windows 8 Pro, customers must be running Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7“. It might happen that to install Windows 8, you always need Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP (SP3) but then that will be a double task so there will be version for clean-install and then this key may not work. Next time you format, be ready for double time installation. Prashant has conveyed its working for clean-install too but I’m skeptical.
  • Upgrade to new system: When Windows Vista came, it became the biggest failure of Microsoft. It was so big fail that first time a fully cooked product was beaten by half-baked Windows ME in terms of failures. Then came Windows 7 which became probably the best ever OS by Microsoft (it still is even after Windows 8 – in my honest opinion because of learning curve involved). There one OS which has been there before that which is still ruling, Windows XP. Even with three service packs, people still prefer it and corporates still working on it. This can be proved that when Windows Vista came, Windows 98 support was withdrawn (6 years or can say X+2) but till now for XP SP3 they have not declared anything like this. This will cause people to move ahead with this new version. If many users are on Windows 8, many corporates would like to give their users a seamless interface and that will cause them to upgrade.
  • Dominance: Many people will love to move on to new technology. I’ve heard few are trying it on their Mac which means for a couple of weeks, Windows might see a spike in its number of users and this data will be used to demoralize OS X users, Free OS like Ubuntu or Fedora Linux users. This will make new buyers move to Windows ecosystem.
  • Birth of ecosystem: The feature that people disliked the most is the start of ecosystem. The Start Tiles (Metro UI or whatever they name it) is the same interface on Tablet and Windows Phone. When connected you can imagine what can happen, for instance, browsing on Tablet or Computer and need to go just take your phone and leave all is there so that you can just continue. Integration will be seamless on OS level unlike app-wise sync (example Chrome). You get the familiar view everywhere and all details in one page. As I’m writing this on Firefox, in Desktop mode I click Windows key and in one glance can see new updates, stocks, calendar, weather and latest news. The hubs (or widgets as in case of KDE), Peek in four corners (just as in Fedora Linux or Mac OS X – not used Macs), I’m already feeling at home and feeling like should have Windows Phone to sync or Surface (or any Windows tablet for that matter). If I can think so can others as well. Microsoft already has Windows Phone 8 device by Nokia, HTC and Samsung along with own production of Surface Tablet; Dell, Samsung, Acer and Sony already having Windows 8 ready laptops, I can only see Metro UI on rise but only future can tell.

Windows 8 is definitely a risky step Microsoft has taken. The Metro UI is a tablet or Phone interface, what it is doing on my computer with pointing device – Mouse. This means either Mouse will be obsolete or they will include touch interface in PC, which involves cost. There is no Start Menu, so there is learning curve. Feels like a movie catch phrase “All you know about Microsoft Windows, is now gone“. In Desktop mode, you have the familiar icons with Ribbon as with Microsoft Office. Why have both Metro UI and Icon based system? Metro UI can be said as compared to Microsoft Windows Media Center but then icons in that were not so great. So, the apps you need most – Browser, News, Stocks, Media Player (links) all on Start while the folders and data in old format. They can’t just make Mouse go away like Apple does with many technologies. Many are already claiming Microsoft has gone crazy and making devices that are not themselves sure what they are as in case of Microsoft Surface, bridge between Tablet and Laptop PC and Windows 8, marriage of Tablet/Phone UI on a PC but I put my bet on the Ecosystem. After Apple, Microsoft has finally created a ecosystem.

Author: Sabyasachi "SAM" Mohapatra

Sabyasachi Mohapatra the author, editor and owner (this place is for bragging, right?) of ZeroneA. He has varied interests not limited to technology, social & political, photography and travel.Software Engineer by education and when not writing (which includes majority of time), he works as software developer to support his ever growing needs. Apart from that, he prefers to daydream and sleep. Do you count Computer Games, watching movies and listening to music? Then there are of course browsing and reading (random things on the internet - just like this one!)You can catch more about him on Facebook , Twitter & Google+.

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