I’m a member of the TANSTAAFL club, too. I don’t believe for a minute that Windows 10 is a free lunch. Microsoft’s changing the way it makes money from Windows. I don’t have any problem with that, but I’d sure like to know more about what’s ahead.
A year ago, Executive Vice President of Windows and Devices Terry Myerson promised us:
"Once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device -- at no cost. With Windows 10, the experience will evolve and get even better over time."
A year later and, in the absence of any definitive clarification, industry pundits have come to all sorts of conclusions. It’s clear to me, based on numerous comments, that Microsoft will not charge a monthly fee for Windows 10 after the July 29, 2016, free upgrade date passes. What’s not so clear is whether there will be other charges -- perhaps for new features -- and exactly what the “supported lifetime of the device” might be.
The debate flared after revelations that Microsoft retroactively declared Win7 and 8.1 won’t be supported on Skylake processors after July 17, 2017. If Microsoft can arbitrarily, and retroactively, set an end of life date for a particular kind of hardware, what’s to keep them from arbitrarily defining “supported lifetime”?
On the one hand, ZDNet and Microsoft Press sage Ed Bott predicts that Microsoft could start charging for Win10 fixes, it could extend the free upgrade offer indefinitely, or it could replace the old free upgrade offer with a new one, possibly with different limitations.
On the other hand, Gordon Kelly at Forbes predicts that Microsoft will start charging for Windows 10:
"The worst case scenario sees Microsoft evolve free Windows 10 into a SaaS (software as a service) model complete with monthly subscription in a few years time (Windows 10.1?). The precedent for enforcing this is also now there: users can avoid the subscription by staying on Windows 10 until support expires in 2025, but Microsoft can repeat its Windows 8 trick of removing support on new hardware so all Windows 10 computers become antiquated."
The fact that there’s any debate at all shows Microsoft hasn’t addressed the question adequately, quite possibly (as Bott suggests) because the decision hasn’t been made as yet.
All I can say is that it takes a whole lot of faith to jump on board a new operating system, without knowing how and/or if you’ll be charged six months down the road.