Saturday, March 28, 2015

10: Subscription v. Outright Purchase?

Are computers and all that surrounds them a proper subject for a blog largely focused on matters of culture? You bet. Even those who still actively purchase books and spend real time with them—and talking about them—have come to rely on such things as Amazon, just the mention of which constellates everything from “connectivity” to “operating systems.”

My old machine, running VISTA, will be updated to Windows 7—although a rather questionable Windows 8 exists and Windows 10 is in the offing. From the folks who made the repairs on mine comes the rumor that in the future Microsoft will require you (after Win-10 replaces Win-7) to pay an annual subscription charge. Things like that alarm me.

Back in the 1980s Brigitte’s Minneapolis Branch of Gale Research, the preeminent publisher of reference works, operated a mid-sized IBM system. It was one system but functionally provided the services of three consoles. The quarterly fee for its operating system back then was the chief expense of running that machine; and with the fee one could easily buy four to five PCs. Not surprisingly, a “migration” to PCs actually took place in that office…

I was peripherally involved in that migration and hence have a painful memory of operating systems that needed right regular and sizeable payments just to boot, you might say.

Well, this article (link) dated January 10, 2015, on PCGamer, assures me that “Windows 10 will not be sold as a subscription,” quoting Microsoft. Very good. Very good. As with all “outright purchase” systems so also with Windows 10, updates and fixes are continuous and free.

All this began, seemingly, because Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer, when first discussing its pricing of Windows 10 in December 2014, had this to say: “We’ve got to monetise it differently. And there are services involved. There are additional opportunities for us to bring additional services to the product and do it in a creative way.”(link). Furthermore, actual pricing of the product was to be made public in Spring/Summer of 2015. So the public is still quite uncertain—except that Windows 10 on new machines and upgrades from Windows 7 and 8 will be free for purchasers of new machines and owners of 7 and 8. So we shall see.

To be sure, a subscription route, if Microsoft actually ever pursues it, will not do much to secure its dominant market share in operating systems. Others will satisfy such people as me who will refuse going that way. Red Hat or somebody. But it is well to keep one’s eyes open. Microsoft already sells the MSDN Operating System under a subscription (link). MSDN, however, is aimed at developers; it gives them access to all Microsoft operating systems to help them test their new products for every Microsoft platform.

Let us by all means stick with “outright ownership” of operating systems. Even then one pays plenty for that ownership. I could provide a long list of operating systems I’ve purchased over the last thirty years, but doing the research for that is a bit tedious…

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