Microsoft has had its toes in the water of software as a service (SaaS) for a while now, with Office 365 being one of the most visible of these services. A new rumor is going around that claims Microsoft is eyeing a move to offering Windows as a Service as well. Reports are that the service will be called 'Microsoft Managed Desktop' and that Redmond will be driving the initiative vigorously.
That service would allow a subscriber to lease a Windows 10 device that is automatically provisioned and kept up to date for a set monthly fee. There is no indication that this will be the only way Microsoft will offer Windows. We believe it would make sense for Microsoft to offer Microsoft Managed Desktop for the workstation crowd or enterprise users not wanting to have to manage hundreds or thousands of PCs individually.
One of the big challenges for the average IT pro with Windows has always been the challenging nature of Windows updates.
Microsoft often pushes out updates only to have enterprise customer updates break something, forcing them to have to roll back for fixes or release a patch for the update itself. The upside for IT pros with the managed platform would be that all the installing of patches, patching patches, and rolling back patches would be on Microsoft rather than the IT team. This potentially frees up resources, saves lots time and removes significant frustration.
In fact, Microsoft already has an executive in place to drive Microsoft Managed Desktop, and that exec is Bill Karagounis, former Director of the Windows Insider Program & OS Fundamentals team. More recently, he was part of the Enterprise Mobility and Management team under Windows and Devices. It's not clear how or when Microsoft plans to launch Microsoft Managed Desktop Service but it's coming, reportedly.
Whenever it launches, it seems that Microsoft would continue to support the stand-alone version of Windows as we know it today; although with Microsoft Office, for example, the company leans heavily on its Office 365 subscription model. It remains to be seen how heavily Microsoft will lean on a Windows subscription based model and if mainstream users will be channeled firmly one way or the other. It's unlikely mainstream consumers would be willing to pay for a subscription --- they won't want to pay continually for an OS and pay more for cheap machines over the long haul. Would you rather "own" your OS or lease it?