When Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be "free for the first year", it left many understandably confused. While it could have been interpreted as an admission that Windows 10 would be subscription-based, Microsoft later clarified that "free" in this case referred to a complete standalone (and permanent) license. That's great, because I'm not sure anyone's quite ready for a subscription-based OS.
Perhaps we should get ready, though, as Microsoft just cleared a trademark for "Windows 365". This naming has obvious connections with Office 365, Microsoft's subscription-based Office solution, so it doesn't require much imagination to understand what Windows 365 could entail.
So, let the speculation begin. Could this be a defensive tactic from Microsoft, so as to protect a name that someone else might register? Or is this a sign of what's to come? Obviously, we don't know the answer yet, but I'm on the side that believes it will become a product down-the-road.
If I had to guess, Windows 365 would follow Office 365 in its footsteps by not "replacing" the standalone permanent license, but that standalone license would be so unattractive and expensive that most people would feel compelled to just subscribe.
Microsoft could join Office and Windows together and offer a special subscription fee. Or, it could wrap it all together and continue charging the same amount that Office 365 costs right now. After all, it's getting harder and harder for Microsoft to justify charging so much for Office amidst all of the competition out there. That could be one reason why the company recently boosted its OneDrive space included with the plan to "unlimited".
As we covered yesterday, Google has Microsoft's Office in its sights, so what better way for Microsoft to help retain its dominance than by giving people both Office and Windows with one simple subscription fee (~$100/yr for home users)?
It'll be interesting to see where this goes. If it goes anywhere, that is.