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January 13, 2014

Will Windows 9 Be Free?

Depending on who you ask, Windows 8 is either Microsoft’s most innovative operating system to date, or an unmitigated failure. On a more objective level, there’s no arguing that it changes things up in a way not seen since Windows XP and, with so much change present in Windows 8, it’s not surprising it tends to elicit strong reactions.

Whatever your opinion on Windows 8, though, it’s clear that very few people want to upgrade to it. Windows 8.1 was partly a response to this as it gives users more flexibility in how they can use the OS, but it’s clearly not enough. It’s not surprising, then, that there have been rumblings of Windows 9, codenamed ‘Threshold.’

It has been rumored that the Threshold update will further unify the Microsoft ecosystem, including Windows Phone, Windows RT and Xbox. This might sound crazy, but it’s nothing compared to the accompanying rumor that Microsoft may drop licensing fees for its mobile operating systems, and give its flagship desktop OS away for free.

According to ZDNet’s Larry Dignan, this is more plausible than it sounds. For one thing, the public reaction to Windows 8 may make consumers wary of another Windows release. For another, Apple doesn’t seem interested in charging for Mac OS updates anymore. Most importantly, the PC market is in decline and could use a little excitement.

There’s also the fact that CEO Steve Ballmer’s retirement is on the horizon; as such, we can’t count on Microsoft being the same anymore.

Even with Ballmer at the helm, Windows 8 saw some of the most competitive pricing for a Windows release ever thanks to an early promotional campaign that allowed users to upgrade for only $40. At the very least, it would be nice is Windows 8 users could get Windows 9 for free.

As always, we’ll just have to wait and see but one thing’s for sure: Microsoft has to do something big — and soon.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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