Windows 12 is the next-generation operating system from Microsoft, and rumors have been circulating that it may be released as a subscription-based service. At the moment, Microsoft already has subscription-based businesses like Microsoft 365 and Xbox Game Pass.

However, these are not as widely used as the Windows system. Thus, it will be difficult for the company to port the Windows system into a paid operating system. This article will explore how a subscription-based Windows 12 upgrade would change the platform.

The Current State of Windows Upgrades

Before we dive into the potential changes that a subscription-based Windows 12 upgrade could bring, let’s look at the current state of Windows upgrades. Historically, Microsoft has offered free upgrades to its operating system for users of previous versions.

For example, Windows 10 was a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 users. This approach has successfully gotten users to upgrade to the latest version of Windows but has also led to some issues.

One of the main issues with the current upgrade model is that it can be difficult for Microsoft to convince users to upgrade to the latest version of Windows. Many users are content with their current version of Windows and see no reason to upgrade.

This can lead to fragmentation in the Windows ecosystem, with users running different operating system versions with different features and security updates.

According to StatCounter, as of September 2023, 3% of Windows users are still running on the 14-year-old Windows 7 system. Though the company no longer supports Windows 7, many users are reluctant to leave the system.

The most used system is Windows 10, which is 8 years old. This system was released in 2015 and succeeded the latest Windows 11 system, released in 2021. Windows 10 has a 70% use rate, while Windows 11 has just 23%. This confirms that Windows users do not upgrade often, even when the upgrade is free.

How a Subscription-Based Windows 12 Upgrade Would Change the Platform

If Microsoft were to release Windows 12 as a subscription-based service, it would change the platform in several ways:

Fewer Upgrades

One of the main reasons why Windows as a platform would change with a subscription model is that even fewer people would upgrade.

In recent years, Microsoft has struggled to convince users to upgrade to the latest version of Windows, and a subscription-based model could make this even more difficult.

Users may be hesitant to pay a monthly fee for an operating system upgrade, especially if they are content with their current version of Windows.

Ongoing Revenue

On the other hand, a subscription-based model would provide Microsoft with ongoing revenue from Windows users. This could be a significant source of income for the company, especially if it can convince many users to subscribe to the service.

Feature Limitations

Another potential change a subscription-based Windows 12 upgrade could bring is feature limitations. Microsoft could offer different subscription tiers with different features, similar to how it offers different versions of Windows 10.

Users who pay more could get access to more features, while users who pay less could be limited in what they can do with the operating system.

Lower Upfront Costs

A subscription-based model would allow manufacturers to lower prices for preconfigured desktop PCs and laptops that ship with Windows 12 preinstalled. Microsoft would likely let them install Windows 12 for free, knowing that the person buying the system would need to pay a subscription. This could make Windows devices more affordable for consumers.


If Microsoft offers a free tier of Windows 12, users will view ads placed throughout the Windows 12 experience. This would be similar to how some free mobile apps are monetized. No doubt, this would be an unpopular move. However, it could be a way for Microsoft to offer a free version of Windows 12 while still generating revenue.


In conclusion, a subscription-based Windows 12 upgrade would change the platform in several ways. It could provide Microsoft with ongoing revenue and make Windows devices more affordable. Also, it could lead to fewer upgrades and feature limitations.

Ultimately, it remains to be seen whether Microsoft will release Windows 12 as a subscription-based service. However, such a move would significantly impact the Windows ecosystem.


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