Give Windows 7 Away for Free

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Give Windows 7 Away for Free

This is a guest post by Robert Barr of BlabrMouth.

The scene: a nondescript office campus in the Seattle suburbs. It’s long past midnight but headlights from a late night coffee run enter the parking lot while assistants and interns scramble about inside.

In a large conference room that appears to have been the scene of many a recent strategy session, pizza boxes and Starbucks cups overflow a single trashcan in the corner of the room. The whiteboard is littered with numbers so large and formulas so complex that a team from NASA will be needed to calculate the totals. A few remaining people surround the conference table while one man stands at the head and listens to each point and counter-point.

If you guessed the company in question is Starbucks trying to figure out a way to sell us $4 lattes again, you’re wrong. The coffee run should have been a clue.

If however, you said Microsoft, then you are correct. But what’s keeping Steve Ballmer up on this night?

Select from the following list of choices:

1. Steve and team are deciding on a real drop dead date to kill off XP
2. Steve is signing off on an ad campaign to counter Apple’s…that works
3. The team is finalizing the details for Bill Gates return to Microsoft to save all the softies from mass extinction
4. Steve is evaluating another bid for Yahoo
5. None of the above

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While all could be true, the correct answer is E, or none of the above.

So what is it, you ask? The answer is going to require you to suspend disbelief from this point forward. We all know (thanks to Apple) that the Windows Vista adoption has been quite unimpressive. In fact, Vista has been so disappointing that Microsoft continues to keep XP on life support.

This leads me to my point

The release of Windows 7 will be make or break for Steve Ballmer. It will be Steve who takes the accolades or the arrows for this launch.

Sure, Gates still hangs around the place like the crazy old uncle that stays too long at Thanksgiving, but Windows 7 is Steve’s baby. This is why he should do something completely unheard of at Microsoft. Something so outlandish, it borders on insanity.

Give Windows 7 away for free!

That’s right, give it away. Microsoft has spent the better part of ten years trying to fashion themselves after Google, while Google in turn has been zeroed in on Microsoft Office.

We are all aware that Google is the king of online advertising. Microsoft has wanted to compete in that space forever, which is why giving away Windows 7 makes so much sense. Let’s look at the numbers; Microsoft’s operating systems are on 90% of the world’s computers, or roughly one billion machines. That’s penetration on a massive scale. Even Google has to be impressed.

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So give Windows 7 away for free as an ad-supported operating system using the Microsoft Ad Center network. That would mean Microsoft serves ads on a billion machines versus the twelve people that currently use MSN. Besides, free is an incredibly seductive word to IT departments, who just had their wishlists pushed back two years in the wake of the recent financial meltdown. Just in time for the launch of Windows 7!

Point being, Microsoft generated $17 billion in profits last year selling software the same way they have for 30 years. During that same time Google made $4 billion and has been developing an ad-centric operating system that will not only compete, but dominate if Microsoft doesn’t market software differently than they have in the past.

Is this model possible? Can Microsoft adopt an ad based operating system and make it work? Do you think it’s even up for discussion out in Redmond? The whole idea makes me think of the line from A Christmas Carol when Scrooge asks the ghost of Christmas future; “are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of things that may be, only?”

# # #

Robert Barr is tired of the way business news is presented to the general public. With all the spin doctoring and screen testing, no one says anything anymore. is the melding of business news and one man’s opinion.

About The Author
Drea Knufken
Drea Knufken
Currently, I create and execute content- and PR strategies for clients, including thought leadership and messaging. I also ghostwrite and produce press releases, white papers, case studies and other collateral.
Leave a response
  • November 18, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Actually, he should give Windows 7 upgrades away for free. He should still charge for a new machine.

    There would be some piracy issues, but that cat is already out of the bag.

  • Chris
    November 19, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    That is a terrible idea. This must be a joke. Who would want to be accosted by ads every time they try and use their computer? I can’t think of a worse kind of hell. Besides, when it comes to free operating systems, or operating systems in general, one can do a lot better than Windows.

  • Edgar
    November 19, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    When I read the title to your article I thought you were crazy. Now that I’ve read your article I think this is pure genius.

  • Cough
    November 19, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Forced to watch ads whenever I boot up? Whenever I shut down? Whenever I load office? Smiley emoticons shouting “OMG, NO WAAAAAAY” on my desktop? I’d rather pay.

  • mclaren
    November 20, 2008 at 1:06 am

    This illustrates Microsoft’s problem. I’ve been using Windows since 1990, and I wouldn’t use Windows 7 if they gave it away. In fact, even if they paid me to put it on my machine, I wouldn’t do it.

    Windows 2000 Pro runs essentially all the drivers and devices that XP runs. 2000 Pro requires only 256 megs and runs fast on a modest 2 Ghz machine. XP, by contrast, bogs down. Plus, XP demands at least 512 megs and a whopping 4 gigs of disc space. And you’d better have a separate hard drive to dedicate to the Windows swap files if you’re running XP.

    So why would anyone ever want to run Windows 7? What, I need something like 14 gigs of disk space and a whopping 1 gigabyte of RAM? And for what? So my current programs and hardware won’t work with Windows 7? Why is that an advantage?

    My 1Ghz 256 meg laptop runs fast and reliably using Win 2K Pro. It wouldn’t even run Windows 7 at all, let alone that bloated senile mess Vista. I’d have to buy all new computers to run these worthless useless new operating systems…yet Vizta or Windows 7 provide absolutely nothing of any value to me for all that expense and trouble.

    Change for the sake of meaningless change is not progress. Unless Microsoft can demonstrate some tangible practical meaningful advantage to changing over to Windows 7, I won’t do it, and neither will anyone else. “Security” is a bogus buzzword, since I simply dual-boot into linux to surf the web, immuizing myself from any Windows malware. And linux runs fast and reliably on my 1 Ghz machine with 256 megs of RAM.

    Why do I need Windows 7?

  • November 20, 2008 at 6:07 am

    I think I agree with this idea. Giving it away for free would pull companies to Windows 7 because the economic situation is still questionable.

    What about upgrades from Windows 7? Should these be free?

  • Johnathon
    November 20, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I would hope to see a paid for version as well. I would hate to have an ad system built into my OS. I have software for blocking ads…I’d rather not invite them in.

  • November 20, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Yes, because what we all really want when we’re using our computers is *more* advertising aimed at us…

    And let’s look at those figures a moment…

    “Microsoft generated $17 billion in profits last year selling software the same way they have for 30 years. During that same time Google made $4 billion”

    Doesn’t that mean Microsoft are doing about four times better, with a model that has worked flawlessly for three decades? Whilst Google’s stock has plumeted to way less than half what it was just 11 months ago?

    This has to be the dumbest thing I’ve read all day.

  • Chris V.
    November 20, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Make Windows an ad-supported system and I’m even less inclined to use it. Either give it away for free WITHOUT ads, or make the price something reasonable like OSX’s sub-$100. Charge more for the server editions if they want, but for the consumers, keep it reasonable.

  • george
    November 20, 2008 at 10:19 am

    Quite possibly the DUMBEST idea ever! Who wants an OS that is Ad supported? We tried that with free computers back in the 90s, remember? It didn’t work, and neither would this idea.

  • November 20, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Free is a little crazy, granted Google has perfected the practice, though I don’t know if MS could do the same. Why not just charge less and offer zero support, and then make cash from support.

    Geeks will get it next to free, non geeks will be hosed. But I guess there would be incentive to make the OS suck to make money on support. Oh geez, forget it, let’s just switch to linux…

  • Laff
    November 20, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Do you really think people would want to be bombarded with ads like that? Of course not, they’d either switch back or get a hack that turned the ads off. Ad sponsorship is having a hard time right now, it’s awfully difficult to base a reliably revenue model on that.

    Just cut the price of Windows 7. Vista is overpriced, $300-something for a retail copy of Premium? $190 for the OEM? Back when PCs cost 3 grand you could do that, but now an entire modern PC costs $500, who in their right mind is going jack up the price by 50% just for the OS?

    System builders, both large and small, just can’t tolerate the overhead w/o a serious discount and nobody is going to buy a copy outright w/ that kind of expense.

    So make it cheaper. A lot cheaper. Under $100 for the retail version, half that for the OEM. Make up the revenue on the backend thru corporate licenses and support.

  • freedom
    November 20, 2008 at 10:30 am

    ha free or not its still going to take way more processor than it should

  • mack
    November 20, 2008 at 10:30 am

    The days of microsoft as an os designer are numbered. im not saying that apple is going to take over, but i think that computer companys will eventualy create an industry standard OS by themselfs. it has already begun.

  • November 20, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I think I would have a heart attack if Microsoft were to give it away for free, I think Bill Gates may have a double heart attack if it happens…….

    The Barbados Blog

  • M M
    November 20, 2008 at 10:32 am

    This is ridiculous. I would never run such an operating system. I would never allow underlings to run an operating system. Unless they gave the option to pay for Windows 7 and not have ads, Windows will be over. Perhaps as a consumer operating system, for people wanting to save money, it will be viable. All this would do is give many business enough reason to leave Windows for something else. Maybe not at once, but definitely when viable solutions are completed.

  • Chris
    November 20, 2008 at 10:32 am

    thats a stupid idea. I don’t want ads on my pc and they are unproductive. Not only that managers wont want ads on their employees pcs for obvious reasons.

  • bvocal
    November 20, 2008 at 10:33 am

    for free and ad based, that would be, er, intrusive. I bet that would help Apple and Linux, er, big time.
    What they should do is sell it for 80$, all features included. That is a price that would make pirating not worth it and not be absurd to the customers point of view.
    2-400$ is offensive.

  • shawn
    November 20, 2008 at 10:33 am

    as an it manager, i wouldn’t allow ANY os in my company that is “ad-supported.” that is the worst idea any pr/marketing idiot could come up with.

    the first thing i would do is low-level that machine and install something _not_ ad-supported.

    the problem with technology is non-technologist (read: “business” drones) think they know everything. what they really know is just shy of nothing.

  • Nick Baker
    November 20, 2008 at 10:35 am

    While your idea is interesting, your writing is poor. Any 8th grader would know that when you label something 1-5, that E is obviously not a rational answer. Next time you write an article, proof it.

  • November 20, 2008 at 10:49 am

    I don’t think so. Remember NetZero’s free add supported internet access? People didn’t like it. Many who did use it just hacked it to stop displaying the ads.

    If Windows 7 comes out as a free add supported OS it’s just going to look desperate – and it will be no time at all before you see hacks available to make the ads invisible. I think Windows 7 needs to solve the real problems of Windows Vista if it Microsoft wants to maintain it’s immense desktop market share.

  • Amie
    November 20, 2008 at 10:49 am

    I could see giving away a “free version” of Windows 7 that is ad supported. But I think businesses would be annoyed at the prospect of ads on their business machines.

    The other benefit to having a free, ad supported version is that it could combat piracy and therefore computer viruses / other malicious problems. No more wga = more updates = more security. Add in the ad revenue idea and it’s amazing that it hasn’t happened before.

    But that is what people get for looking at piracy as if every copy pirated is a lost sale. If you don’t look at it that way, any ad supported revenue that replaces a previously pirated copy is obviously of great benefit.

  • Larry Smith
    November 20, 2008 at 10:49 am

    So, I click on notepad and get a pizza ad (or coffee)? IT
    will never go for it but I suppose typical windows users
    won’t care. They will think that their new OS came from a
    dill-pickle or rent-a-car company.

  • Matt
    November 20, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Are you crazy? I would *NEVER* use an ad supported OS. I get enough ads thrown in my face all day.

    This is the same reason people don’t use the native AIM client (damn ads).

    First of all Vista isn’t bad… the media (and Apple) are just making it out to be bad. I use Macs, Linux and Windows boxes all day and Vista works just fine (great in fact) even if it had a somewhat rough start.

    I will buy Windows 7 when it comes out. If it is ad supported I would never use it. The idea of an ad supported OS is a very bad idea, IMHO.

  • dave
    November 20, 2008 at 10:53 am

    yeah I’m not using any OS that is infested with bloody adverts no matter how free it is or who makes it, Google or whoever.

  • boe
    November 20, 2008 at 10:54 am

    If InfoWorld’s comparison of Vista and Windows 7 is true – giving it away for free wouldn’t make it attractive to businesses as they’d still have to upgrade their hardware for it to run as fast as XP does on their old equipment.

    If Vista is Steve’s baby he should accept that it has SID and stop trying to tell people it is going to get better.

    I don’t know if MS doesn’t have any talented programmers, if their managers just have lead talented programmers down the wrong path, if everyone is too afraid of Steve to tell him the truth about how much Vista sucks or if Steve is purposely trying to kill off MS so his buddy Bill looks good and can pull a Jobs comeback for MS but something is really really REALLY wrong at MS.

    iPhone is blowing the doors off MS WM – in just two years or so of being on the market?

    OSX is making noticeable inroads into business mainstream use.

    Linux is gaining ground as well both at home and office.

    Two years after release and Exchange 2007 still doesn’t have the GUI features that were available in the previous versions – now you have to write DOS script commands just to do what used to take a whole click of a mouse.

    Outlook – the most key element in the office suite – used by most employees all day long still only supports one profile – you can have multiple accounts but only one outlook profile can be opened at a time and it still pops up for many people with the outlook file didn’t close properly… OH – and it still doesn’t reliably connect with MS’s own hotmail program!

    Is anyone actually testing MS products – I know I am but they seem to ignore comments from people who tested Vista telling them how badly it performed. Or they said it must be your drivers or an application you installed. They didn’t want to give any bad results as that might throw off their scheduled delivery date or they were worried Steve would throw a chair at them.

  • Craig Matthews
    November 20, 2008 at 11:02 am

    “Point being, Microsoft generated $17 billion in profits last year selling software the same way they have for 30 years. During that same time Google made $4 billion and has been developing an ad-centric operating system that will not only compete, but dominate if Microsoft doesn’t market software differently than they have in the past.”

    Microsoft made 400% more profits than Google last year and you suggest that for this reason that it’s a good idea for them to adopt Google’s software model?

    What exactly do you mean by this paragraph? It sounds like it’s saying that Microsoft makes more profits than Google so they better shape up and start doing things like Google. That doesn’t make much sense.

    Additionally, when you number choices 1-5, there is no answer “E.”

  • James
    November 20, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Don’t give it away for free, but make it reasonable ( < $100 ), and then tie in tight integration with online subscription services (Calendar, Mail, etc). In the future, they will have to make their money off software as a service.

  • Justin A.
    November 20, 2008 at 11:06 am

    They should give Windows 7 upgrade away free, because of vista. This upgrade shouldn’t even be ad based! Vista has been killing Microsoft, and if they want to make up for it, they should let people get Windows 7 and fix their problems.

  • Ryan
    November 20, 2008 at 11:11 am

    I just wanted to say one thing.

    Microsoft is a business.

  • Lagos
    November 20, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Let me get this right… You believe that MS should create an OS filled with advertising and spam to save their business and reputation?

  • TizzyFoe
    November 20, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I figured the article was going to argue that we bought XP once and it lasted us 6 years, but vista only lasted about 2, so the next version of windows should be a free upgrade.

    Its an awful idea imo. I would sooner buy a mac then an OS deliberately infected with adware. (i’d probable go to Linux first)

  • John
    November 20, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Nice thought, but the reality is that no corporation is going to deploy an ad-centric operating system throughout their infrastructure.

    Besides, it is foolish to use Google as an example when (1) the operating system you reference does not yet exist and (2) the fruits of those effort have yet to be realized.

  • Sriranga
    November 20, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Google is not a problem for MS in OS space. Contrary to what Google thinks, everyone actually gets pissed off with Google Ads. Just count the number of downloads the Firefox Add-on AdBlock Plus has !!

    Working on a comp will be annoying all the more. It will be like watching TV!! Atleast you can change channels in TV!

  • Joe the Plumber
    November 20, 2008 at 11:26 am

    He should charge for windows security updates as well 😛

  • November 20, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Nobody wants an ad-infested OS. But people do want a full version of Windows 7 that costs less than $50.

  • Brandon
    November 20, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Brilliant idea! I want ads everywhere in my operating system!

  • Brasilian Engineer
    November 20, 2008 at 11:34 am

    It might work, but many people are not ok with Ad-ware, so there needs to also be an option for paying for it.

  • Josh
    November 20, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Author: Oh hey Microsoft, I know you wanted to deliver Windows 7 on time but please rethink the entire operating system to include effective advertising placement and delivery. By the way please also reform your entire distribution and sales network one year before expected delivery, and say a big screw you to your investors who have suddenly had to take on enourmous risk for a complete change in business strategy.

    Microsoft: Ok, thanks!

  • Michael
    November 20, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Novel idea, but I absolutely would never support it. The average person sees THOUSANDS of ads each day. Now I have to look at them on my computer too?

    One of the smaller reasons I ended up switching to a Mac was freedom from the annoyance of all the “free” software clogging up my new PC, most of which would hassle me endlessly after their trial period was up.

    I’d never go back to an environment even close to that. No ad, no way, no how. Never.

    Now if they wanted to give it away for free with no ads, even as a die-hard Mac user I’d have to seriously consider installing it. Free is free after all.

  • Vance
    November 20, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Windows 7 as an ad-supported operating system? Are you serious?! That would be a worse PR move than the entire Vista debacle. They should absolutely NOT do that. Not at all.

    Windows 7 should be good enough TO charge for. It actually has features that makes me WANT to pay to upgrade. That’s what they need to bank on and keep doing – providing useful new features that people are willing to pay for. Not giving everything away for free.

    If they did give it away for free, I bet a shareholder lawsuit would soon follow.

  • Bill Rivers
    November 20, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Wow, this is just bad writing. Everything up to “This leads me to my point” lacked even a shred of humor, wit, or intrigue.

  • November 20, 2008 at 11:43 am

    So…you don’t think there’d be massive backlash for turning something that everyone is already going to be skeptical of into *adware*?

  • C Walton
    November 20, 2008 at 11:45 am

    I think Windows 7 upgrades should be free as well, but without ads. For what it cost to get that POS called Vista, the next 2 versions of Windows should be free. Of course we all know that won’t happen……

  • November 20, 2008 at 11:46 am

    Giving away Windows and charging for ads makes some sense, however, Microsoft would have to do this in a way that would make sense.

    In other words, they have what, 3 or so versions of Vista: Home, Business, Ultimate.

    If they gave it away for home users it may make sense. For businesses, I’m not sure if they’d want MSFT serving up ads to their employees and taking time away from work. Vice versa, the Ultimate version, which would be used by the majority of power users has a few things in it like Media Center that might make it hard to work in ads.

    You have an interesting take, and I know why there were so many formulas on the board.


  • brian
    November 20, 2008 at 12:03 pm

    WTF? Are you insane? Who wants an OS that dumps ads on them? NO ONE!!!!

  • Brian
    November 20, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    And Apple should give Snow Leopard away for free as well pack it with ad shit as well. I think the fan boys would love it!

  • rob
    November 20, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    An ad supported OS? I detest adware. No, thanks. I’ll pay in cash. What MS should do is make Windows 7 lean, modular, and DRM free.

  • Rupak Kharvandikar
    November 20, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Why don’t Microsoft guys make additional arrangements to give away a powerful enough laptop along with the Windows 7 .. ?? … Steve…. are you listening .. ??

  • Alex
    November 20, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Obviously MAC lover. Are you a part of the MAC community?

  • louis cousins
    November 20, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Are you insane?

    An ad-based operating system?

    Because advertising isn’t already annoying enough?

    With all the effort that gets put into pop-up blockers, spyware removers, and community cleanup efforts to try to rid our cities of those stupid little signs that are stuck in the grass at every street corner, do you really think that what this world needs is more advertising?

    Let me assure you, that I for one would much rather pay for the operating system than to deal with even more ads for Viagra and Proactive, and as a decision maker for the IT department at my company, we WILL NOT be installing any ad-based software, let alone an operating system.

  • Michael
    November 20, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    It won’t work, people will just point the M$ Ads in their Hosts file to and call it a day.

  • Yori
    November 20, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    That is a remarkably, unbelievably, astoundingly, silly idea. Lets look at this from a few different angles.

    1) Corporate environments: Do you really expect every large corporation in America to allow an operating system on their machines that shows ads non-stop to its employees? Not a chance, especially if we’re talking about for example Ford or GM office workers getting Honda and Toyota advertisements on their business machines.

    2) Avoidance through patching: It will take a sum total of one month while still in beta for somebody out there to find a way to hide/circumvent/disable the ads and release a patch.

    3) Avoidance through port blocking or offline: It is almost a guarantee that the ads would have to be retrieved from some online source to keep them fresh and updated. This would allow anyone to block whatever communication channel that the ads use to upload them to your machine and prevent them from being shown. Not to mention that the most prominent types of digital ads, namely clickable ads that take you to a website or purchase screen are useless if the machine is offline.

    4) Security Issues: If the ads are retrieved online, it would be a relatively simple matter for an attacker to inject his/her own content into the stream of ads allowing them to potentially execute malicious code on the client machine. And we know how well Microsoft does with security issues.

    5) Privacy Issues: For ads to be country/location specific for something as simple as being in the right language, Microsoft would have to identify and transmit your personal information.

    6) Less Money: I won’t try to pretend I’m any sort of expert on this subject, but given volume licenses and OEM agreements and hardware provider agreements, I’m pretty sure Microsoft already makes a bundle and then some on plain old software sales.

    7) It’s annoying. Or, another reason to switch to Apple. PCs are already winning the price war, Apple has always capitalized on features and usability over price.

  • November 20, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Give it away for the first year, this will give people a sense of urgency to make the switch.

  • karl
    November 20, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    windows 7 free with ads. no thanks. it should be a free upgrade (no ads) or vista service pack.

  • Olav
    November 20, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    An ad-supported OS would be the most annoying thing.

    A $100 Windows 7 Ultimate (just get rid of all the other versions!) and a $50 upgrade from Vista would be great. Anyway, they’ll make tons of money on the licenses on new multitouch-enabled computers.

  • Mike
    November 20, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Ya, you should write for free also.. just return your paycheck, you already have lots of adds on this site.

  • JS Hark
    November 20, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Why have an ad-supported free OS, when you have community-supported free OS’s (linux) already out there?

  • jimbob
    November 20, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I’d rather pay 400 bucks than deal with an ad-based OS.

  • November 20, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I would rather not run an operating system that is ad supported. I can just imagine it now, ad windows in every Microsoft application from Explorer to Defrag to Word 2009. No thanks; I’ll continue using Linux. The best thing Microsoft can do is throw out some of the management and fix their OS from the ground up. After that, they should offer one version of Windows, and charge $150 for it. And after that, if you still aren’t satisfied, do a 2 year upgrade cycle on the whole thing. That brings it to $75 a year for the “luxury” of using Windows on your PC, about the same as OS X. That’s a price everyone could live with, even the corporate IT types, if they can budget the upgrades knowing they will arrive on time and cost the same.
    Funny thing is, back in 2000 when I heard about Windows XP, I laughed, I saw it as Windows eXtra Pretty edition, but in hindsight, XP was the best OS Windows has come out with. Keep the OS simple Microsoft, and bundle your other applications _with_ it, but not _within_ it.

  • Hank
    November 20, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Wouldn’t work. The shareholders would riot and have Steve replaced in a heartbeat. Plus, if it showed ads based on the content of the machine (your documents for work for example), how you feel about that?
    Oh, and the EU would have a field day with the privacy issues.

  • jordonovich
    November 20, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Yea, I agree with murph, they should have a free or relatively cheap upgrade path for vista users and still charge a price for new machines, also they need to lower the cost. should be not much more than 100 bucks.

  • snert
    November 20, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    If windows7 isn’t significantly better than vista, microsoft might even have a difficult time giving it away for free.

  • Ryan
    November 20, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I’d rather pay for an ad-free OS. Just make it cheaper and only two versions – home and pro (plus server editions).

  • colin
    November 20, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    ad based operating system? i think i’d rather kill myself.

  • David Reid
    November 20, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    No one in their right mind is going to use an add based OS. Far too irratating!

  • Paul
    November 20, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Give away desktop for free… not a stripped down version, but the ultimate desktop with everything, then sell the server version (or better yet, give the server away supporting 10 clients or less).

    That would be a coup… even if it’s NOT ad supported.

  • DDayDawg
    November 20, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    As a gamer I would never use an ad based operating system. I find this story to be somewhat laughable right on the heels of Google falling flat on their face coming out of the gate in the browser market. Google is not nearly as big a competitor to Microsoft as people like to play out. They have some decent programs but they all languish in “Beta” mode and updates, even small and popular ones, never seem to make it into these online tools.

    I’m sure Microsoft seems them as a threat and would like to crush them, but it’s not like Google is in the same market. As a disappointed Vista owner (i still have XP on my main machine but wanted to give Vista a go) I agree that the Vista to Win7 update should be free or VERY, VERY cheap. If I pay more than $20 it’s time to get the torches and pitchforks out.

  • Shalva
    November 20, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    They should give Windows 7 away for free as a patch to fix all the horrible things about Vista.

  • bob
    November 20, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I’ll have sex with steve ballmer for windows 7

  • Nathan Moebus
    November 20, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    What would be the purpose of pirating free software!?!?!?! If it is free…there is no need to pirate!

  • mac fan
    November 20, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    If its ad based, they would have to pay the users to be subjected to the ever growing pile of MS bloat.

  • November 20, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Google sells ads that are content targeted. How would Windows ads do anything other than bug me?

  • November 20, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    I’m sorry, but I don’t want an “ad-supported operating system”. I have no desire to see ads from Microsoft on my desktop or in any other form. They already have too much control seeing what I do and I don’t want them to have anything else.

    I agree that Microsoft should give it away because they’re losing ground on Linux variations but making it full of ads is not the right way to go.

  • Tyler
    November 20, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    No. Absolutely not. If the trade-off for a free Windows OS(already not that much incentive) is having to deal with MORE ADS to connect to the world network, then all I can say is “Fuck no.” The number of ads on the internet and an increasing number of programs these days is simply ridiculous. Smothering the Windows OS in ads is a sure-fire way to give OS X and Linux distros an even bigger chunk of the pie.

    I also agree that upgrades to Windows 7 should be free for Vista users due to Windows forcing Vista users to endure crap central for these past few years, and free for XP users as a reward for their intelligent decisions to stick with the lesser of two evils. You know, for some reason, it costs MORE MONEY to upgrade to Vista from another Windows platform than it does to buy a whole new box.

    Oh, and we don’t need ten versions. We need one, maybe two. Microsoft may say that so many versions allows for something for everyone, but they don’t seem to realize that having one version would mean EVERYTHING for EVERYONE.

  • Steven
    November 20, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    hopefully not any ads like on hotmail. that HUGE ad at the top veered me directly to gmail, gotta love it.

  • Justin
    November 20, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I wouldn’t want Windows 7 for free if it meant I’d have to see advertisements.

  • k
    November 20, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Shut up . No ads for me please

  • November 20, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Sounds like a great idea to make Windows 7 freeware.
    Maybe income can come in the same way open source
    program companies do it.

    thanks from tony

  • Barius
    November 20, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    He should give it away for free to anyone that already wasted their money on Vista. Considering Win7 would hardly be considered more than a point upgrade in the Mac or Linux worlds, it just seems wrong to ask money for it.

    Further, after paying money for Vista and finding out that half the features that existed in XP are actually *missing* from any version of Vista less than Ultimate is just plain insulting. Vista buyers deserve a free upgrade to Win7, if only to finally get what they paid for.

  • Ferh
    November 20, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Hmm not sure if they will be allowed to… EU will be all over MS for anti trust, perhaps paying a small subscription fee would bypass that.. Open source would make it rule the universe for ever and ever but Windows code isn’t something you want to put out there in the wild just like that.

  • Alan Meade
    November 20, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Ad based operating system … no thanks. I think I’d just rather pay for it, theres already enough ads plastered over websites/blogs without having to look at them while im trying to word process.

  • YeahNah
    November 20, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    You think I want to have every desktop on my network constantly going out onto the net to download MS ads? Which will take up some of their screen real estate (go read the studies, more pixels equals higher productivity) and be linked to websites to let me users waste even more time and bandwidth buying whatever it is that MS is advertising? Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather pay license fees, or go linux.

  • Matthew
    November 20, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    It’s funny how only Apple users/fanboys are the one who bash Vista.

    “We all know (thanks to Apple) that the Windows Vista adoption has been quite unimpressive. In fact, Vista has been so disappointing that Microsoft continues to keep XP on life support.”

    Where’s your support for this argument? Yes, Apple is making every effort possible to bash Vista. But what evidence is there to support your claims? I go to a major university in Florida and most of our computers are on Vista now.

    The bottom line is that I don’t understand why there is all this hate for Microsoft/Apple. For that matter, why does it only come from Apple users? I don’t hate Apple/Mac’s. I just prefer Windows-based computers.

  • November 20, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    This is a terrible idea. You’re a terrible person.

  • ZaiD
    November 20, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I am totally agree with above proposal.
    They have the majority, and should use it wisely.
    Not just getting profit for short term.

  • Jordan
    November 20, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    So instead of accidentally getting viruses that show annoying ad popups on my OS, I’d have them built in? No thanks.

  • November 20, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Read this part again please:
    Select from the following list of choices:

    1. Steve and team are deciding on a real drop dead date to kill off XP
    2. Steve is signing off on an ad campaign to counter Apple’s…that works
    3. The team is finalizing the details for Bill Gates return to Microsoft to save all the softies from mass extinction
    4. Steve is evaluating another bid for Yahoo
    5. None of the above

    While all could be true, the correct answer is E, or none of the above.

    Funny, I thought ”5” would have been good too..

  • November 20, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Giving Windows 7 away for free is an interesting idea. Im not sure how practical it is, but perhaps they could give away a downloads only, stipped down version for free online. Letting people try it for free, upgrade if they wish, or keeping using the microsoft product(ad supported perhaps), are all winning scenarios in my book.

  • Kris
    November 20, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    I don’t want ads in my operating system :(

  • james
    November 20, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    steve should read this. :)

  • November 20, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Micro is publicly traded so this isn’t a call for Steve alone. As for the content… too many reasons for them to even seriously consider this path. Interesting suggestion none-the-less.

  • Chris
    November 20, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    I’ve always felt that the base OS should be free. Sure MS has 90% market saturation but how much of that was pirated? What do those pirates do to those free distributions that could affect all of us via worms, trojans, etc.?

    Here are some options:
    1. The Red Hat model says charge the corporate IT departments for licenses and support; let the general market obtain the software without warranty or guarantee. Charge them for tech services.

    2. Offer a base OS. No bells, no whistles, no nothing. The consumer pays for software and upgrades, some of which MS will capture and some it won’t.

  • Carlos
    November 20, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Ad-supported operating system is a retarded idea. The first thing that will happen is that it will be hacked. Justifiably.

  • November 20, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I would not want ads in my OS.

  • November 20, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    I have the answer!!!


  • torrent
    November 20, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    i think this is a feasible. they have to workout on what is their advertising strategy. if this works, they might get bigger profit than 17 bil

  • Stephen Hill
    November 20, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I’ve never in my life seen a larger disconnect from reality than the perception around Windows Vista. Look in your weblogs to see how many vista machines are hitting your sites. Every month they sell on par with XPs launch, every month Vista increases in market share by what Apple does in a year and a half. They are creeping up on a quarter billion Vista installs.

    God damn people. What is going on?!

  • Clay
    November 20, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Personally, I think they should give away Windows 7 for free just for the fact that computer users had to suffer paying for Vista.

  • November 20, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    Well, Google doesn’t make a free OS, yet (Yeah, there’s android, but thats for phones). Like Ted, I’m rather thinking that they should give free Windows 7 upgrades to people who’ve already bought Vista. That’d bolster their cred. Btw, I’m not a griping Vista user, I’m just an innocent bystander who switched to OSX quite some time ago.

  • Cole Smith
    November 20, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    An ad supported operating system, eh? I can’t wait for a little splash ad popping up every time I launch Word, or audio interrupting my music every 5 songs to tell me to buy such and such. Sounds like a fantastic idea to me.

  • Hutch
    November 21, 2008 at 3:02 am

    Personally I would rather pay for an OS than have one riddled with advertising. I use my computer for many hours a day and I think that adverts would cheapen the whole experience.

  • Kerry
    November 21, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    There should be a free home edition of Windows and the Professional services can be added for a price. There isn’t a single Windows version that is offered free to the public. I don’t think the “ads” should even be a part of it. Windows 7 should have 3 tiers (1) Windows 7 Home (2) Windows 7 Corporate (3) Windows 7 Server.

    Corporations can carry on the payments and personal-use customers can get some gratification and confidence in Microsoft by receiving a free version of Windows. We don’t all need all of the software that comes with windows. I don’t use Live Mail or Messenger or even the Picture editor.

    Not only is MS competing against Google, they are competing against Linux. I still attend some classes on-campus and I see students gradually moving to MAC and Linux OS’s for various reasons.

    MS should at least offer a free version with the option to upgrade to specific services at a reasonable price.

    I don’t want to launch Paint and get a popup that says “This program brought to you by McDonalds \n I’m loving it.” That would be too annoying.

  • November 21, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    No Way !!!!! ….. I would never use an ad infested OS ….. !!

  • Anonymous Coward
    November 25, 2008 at 7:50 am

    I’m very sorry but I find the point of this article very stupid and arrogant.

  • jasmin
    November 26, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Hello, I’m a mac/linux user. I come on Windows themed blogposts to troll.

  • December 17, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    does this mean the downfall of microsoft on a platform level, as far as new OS’s go? cause that last clusterph#!k (vista) was a nightmare.

  • December 22, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Interesting thought. Free is motivating word in any kind of economy. Watching ads is painful unless if you really need to watch them. Plus we already have Ubuntu and Fedora desktop 10 which are running with no ads. The end users are getting smart about how to get bloated PCs crap free before using. But leave all these logical reasoning & thoughts, the important point is about Google’s new business model and how may Microsoft establish its supremacy with that. The model is using ads and making money out of it through the platform which reaches to billion users. Very Interesting thought. How to implement is different question. During this era of cloud computing, lean development and agile teams driven, it is the perfect challenge. This brings us to the age where very thin platforms which can utilize ever connected world of clouds, so relevancy of fully functioning OS on the end user PCs is reduced. New business model has to come through clouds. And clouds will rain on us appliances, ads, utilities and malwares and what not.


  • January 18, 2009 at 8:51 am

    OS for personal use will eventually become free, Linux did it long back and Microsoft might do it in the next several years.

    Because of the sheer percentage of business Microsoft is getting because of its operating system, I assume for now, Microsoft will not just make it free they will also reduce features (Do you remember Windows Vista Starter?, its been in existence since long but is legal to be sold only in developing countries). Microsoft might initially release such a miniature product initially which may or may-not be supported by advertisements.

    Ashish Chamoli

  • Choda Boy
    January 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    First: There was no option “E”. If this was an attempt at humor, it failed.

    Second: Microsoft should give every Vista user/licensee a free upgrade to Win7 because Vista is fatally flawed.

  • adam
    January 29, 2009 at 9:18 am

    i completely agree that 7 should be a free upgrade for us Vista users. it’s ridiculous. it shouldn’t be our fault that they flubbed it.

    now they expect everyone to hash out a few more hundred in a DEPRESSION because they couldn’t get it right.


    they won’t make that profit margin, so why should they help any of their customers? i used to respect them greatly but i’m starting to really dislike Microsoft. they use EVERY opportunity possible to suck every dime out of their customers (the examples could go on forever).

  • Aaron
    January 31, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    What a retard, who wants an OS with ads all over it!!!!!

  • March 2, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Microsoft should give free upgrade for Vista but should still sell the new Windows 7 OS with the option to give for free with ad support.

    But the best way to kill G o o g l e is to attack it from inside out. Microsoft should listen to its inner sense and grab an opportunity from

  • March 18, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Funny, I didn’t realize this post had such an impact! Funny though how people assume my concept of a monetized OS meant ads everywhere.

    So, to clarify my position. My use of ads was more along the lines of the contextual ads you see in Gmail, Google, Reader, and Docs, not blinking neon splash pages or giant Viagra banners. I know I am a marketing guy, but give me a little credit! :)

  • Steve Ballmer
    July 11, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    How do you not have threaded comments???

  • JihnSmoth
    July 27, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Look, if you really want to have a windows 7 OS for free, try checking out this Youtube video

  • Doug
    September 8, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Get rid of all versions of Windows except for one, Ultimate or at least Professional. Sell it for $99.95 for the full version, $49.95 for upgrade. Piracy will drastically drop.
    More people would buy it if it did not cost the price of a comuter.

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