Would you pay for a Windows subscription?

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 26, 2017
Updated • Sep 20, 2019

The Windows operating system is offered as a standalone buy-once version and as a subscription-based version right now.

The standalone version of Windows 10 is available as a full retail version, as a system builder version, as an upgrade, and as something that is already on a machine that you buy.

The subscription-based version is called Microsoft 365, and it too is available in different service plans. Microsoft 365 Business is the only plan currently that is available to anyone even though it is designed for businesses predominantly.

Microsoft moves from creating retail and upgrade versions of Windows and Office to subscription-based systems. The company launched Office 365 first, a subscription-based service for Office. Plans start at $69.99 per year and include access to Office applications online and locally, as well as online storage.

Microsoft launched Microsoft 365 more recently. The new service combines Office 365 with Windows 10, and works very similar to Office 365. You sign up for a plan, pay a monthly or yearly fee, and get access to the versions of Office 365 and Windows 10 that are included.

For Microsoft 365 Business, it means Office 365 Business Premium and Windows 10 Professional. All other Microsoft 365 plans are Enterprise-only services.

Office 365 subscriptions at the end of 2016 were close to 25 million according to this Computerworld report. While the growth of new subscribers slowed down, revenue did not as Microsoft reported a year on year increase of 43% in Office 365 revenue.

Office 365 is the second fastest growing product (after Azure) in the 2017 fiscal year. It is too early to tell how well Microsoft 365 will do as it was launched just recently in 2017.

One question that comes to mind is whether users will switch from a pay-once system to a subscription-based operating system. While Microsoft seems to focus on the Enterprise heavily right now with Microsoft 365, it seems very likely that the company will extend the service to include Home plans as well in the future.

Advantages and disadvantages of operating system subscriptions

What are the advantages of subscribing, and what are the disadvantages of doing so? Microsoft 365 includes both Office 365 and Windows 10 which means that you get access to both with a single subscription.

Since it is a subscription-based service, you will always have the chance to upgrade to the latest version of Office or Windows without having to make another one-time payment to do so.

Many of the features that are part of a subscription are mostly interesting to businesses right now. These include device management services to manage users and device settings, deployment using AutoPilot, or automatic deployment of Office apps on PCs.

To be fair, there is no Microsoft 365 Home plan currently. If Microsoft launches it in the future, it will probably do away with the business-focused services that Microsoft added to other plans.

One of the main downsides of subscribing instead of buying once is that you pay more. The cheapest Microsoft 365 plan is offered for $20 per month currently. It includes an Office 365 and Windows 10 subscription and will cost you $240 per year.

Microsoft sells Windows 10 Pro on its website for a one-time price of $199.99, and Office Home & Student 2016 for PC for $149.99. That's roughly $350 in expenses in the first year, and not taking into account that you can buy Windows 10 and Office for less.

In the second year, you pay another $240 for the subscription so that you are at $480 in total; that is $130 more already than for the standalone products.

If you use the device five years, you end up paying $1200 in that time for the subscription, and $350 for the standalone products.

Even if you assume that Microsoft 365 Home would be offered for a cheaper price, you'd still save money buying once instead of subscribing. If the subscription price drops to $10 for a Home version for instance, you'd still pay $600 over five years.

Another disadvantage of subscribing is that you will lose access or functionality when you stop payments.

Now You: Would you subscribe to a Windows plan? Can you think of other advantages or disadvantages?

Would you pay for a Windows subscription?
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Would you pay for a Windows subscription?
The Windows operating system is offered as a standalone buy-once version and as a subscription-based version right now.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):


  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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