Microsoft Corporation has announced that they are discounting the price of licenses for version 8 of their long running Windows operating system by 70 percent for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Reports indicate the cost will drop from $50 to $15 per license for OEMs to preinstall the operating system on their hardware offerings.
Windows 8 has not sold well, not nearly as well as even Windows 7, which many users only begrudgingly purchased or upgraded from previous versions. Only 200 million Windows 8 licenses have been sold since the operating system was released in October 2012. Windows 7, by comparison sold 240 million licenses during the first year of its availability.
This gesture on Microsoft’s part is long overdue for many industry watchers that have criticized the eighth iteration of the OS as one of the worst ever released by the company, which has been synonymous with desktop computing for over 30 years.
Reducing the price will at least increase the chances of low-end OEMs rolling out desktops, laptops, and tablets to less demanding customers as the software company works to find its footing after hiring a new CEO, Satya Nadella, earlier this year.
Microsoft Corporation has been struggling for a long time but this reduction of licensing fees for Windows 8 may indicate the firm is aware of its value proposition’s short comings and is doing something about it.
A company that transformed the entire PC industry over 30 years ago missed a string of opportunities under the leadership of CEO Steve Ballmer. He took over the position from the founder, Bill Gates, in 2000 and during his tenure, trends that built the fortunes of other technology companies (smartphones, digital music players, tablet computers) were either ignored or derided by Microsoft, tarnishing its image and eroding its profitability.
Windows 8 was in some ways a last-ditch effort by the company to catch up with rivals on all fronts, simultaneously. Windows 8 was designed and marketed as an operating system which would run on traditional mouse and keyboard driven desktop computers and also on touch driven mobile devices, providing what Microsoft Corporation promised would be a seamless user experience.
The seams started to unravel on the fabric of Windows 8 shortly after its release. The first update, version point 1, normally smoothed out the wrinkles on point 0 releases, but this time it did nothing to make things better and Microsoft soon found its users looking for better dressed alternatives. One review made it clear just how disappointing the update was, “There also will be ways to make it easier to close apps.”
It seems wise for the company to try to maintain market share – mind share – by making it easier for OEMs to build devices running Windows, especially tablet devices. Sales of their challenge to tablets from Apple and Samsung, the Surface, still don’t look very promising. Microsoft’s strength has never really been in hardware production, the Xbox gaming console being the exception that proves the rule.
Discounting Windows for OEM’s is a great first step for Microsoft Corporation as they refocus their efforts on what they did best for so long: build software for business and enterprise users that ran on almost anything, even different operating systems.
Opinion By Brian Ryer