Now that the 2014 Microsoft Build conference is over, we can look back and analyze the announcements made at this event. Sure, there was plenty of cool stuff announced: Windows Phone 8.1 with all of it’s amazing features (Cortana is looking to dominate the personal assistant market), Windows 8.1 update 1 which is bringing many improvements to traditional desktop users, new Azure pricing levels, open sourcing of .NET compiler and more. But I think the most important announcement of all was the new Windows pricing.
Fort the first time ever, Windows (all flavors of it, including Windows Phone) will be available to OEMs for free, as long as the size of the device screen is less than 9 inches. This announcement is definitely a seismic shift in the way Microsoft conducts business. For many years, Windows was a cash cow for Microsoft and now Microsoft is letting this cow run free (at least for smaller devices). So, why Microsoft is doing this?
In the past couple of years Microsoft proclaimed itself to be a “devices and services” company which represents a major shift from Microsoft’s past as a software development corporation. That direction is definitely getting even more support from Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella. As a device and services company Microsoft should be driving more revenue from devices (Surface series, coming Nokia phones) and services (Azure, Bing, Office 360, Sharepoint Online).
By making Windows available for free for smaller devices Microsoft is enabling OEMs to directly compete with Google’s offerings (Android and ChromeOS) which Google also give away for free.
Another announcement which goes hand-in-hand with free Windows is the introduction of a “universal Windows apps”, allowing developer to build applications which will run on Windows, Windows Phone and even the XBox. Combined with less expensive Windows devices these universal apps should contribute to the expansion of a Windows ecosystem, increasing demand for Microsoft services and boosting Microsoft revenue.