Last month at the company’s Build developer conference, Microsoft made a surprise announcement: it was dropping the price it charged for Windows on devices smaller than 9 inches to $US0.
On Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hinted that it might not be the last time Microsoft gives Windows away. He wants Microsoft to expand into new markets such as wearable computers, and he’s willing to price Windows as needed to make that happen, he says.
When it comes to new opportunities, from wearables the Internet of Things, we want to be able to participate in all of this with our Windows offering …
We want to be able to price by category. .. We looked at what makes sense for us to do on tablets and phones below 9 inches and we felt that price needed to be changed. … that’s how we want to approach each of those opportunities.
Giving Windows away for free was a radical departure for Microsoft, but not a totally unexpected one.
Selling operating systems to PC manufacturers is part of the company’s DNA, stretching back to its days as a startup. That said, there had been rumours and leaks that Microsoft was experimenting with free and low-cost versions of Windows.
Now that Microsoft has its own hardware maker in Nokia, perhaps the company will do more than offer Windows for wearables. Maybe it will one day make its own version of Glass or a watch, too.