What is Windows-as-a-Service? FAQ

I heard “Windows as a Service” or WaaS being mentioned twice at an event on Wednesday. Straight away, as a blogger/speaker, I knew what questions people would ask. Here’s what this means:

Windows as a Service is a mindset from Microsoft. You don’t use an OS; your use apps and content. The OS should be a transparent enabler. However, the OS should be kept up to date with fixes, etc, and functionality can be added. Microsoft intends to offer free upgrades to the OS via updates once you are on Windows 10.

The Free Upgrade Offer

For one year, anyone running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 can avail of a free upgrade to Windows 10. After that point, it is likely that you will have to pay to upgrade to Windows 10.

Is Windows Moving to a Subscription Model?

No*. Once you are on Windows 10 you will get the continuous improvement updates for free. You will not be charged a monthly/yearly fee.

* Note that some business licensing (OVS and ESA) are actually already subscriptions.

What about Businesses?

Here’s what is explicitly stated (in a mail I received):

The upgrade offer does not apply to Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8.1 Enterprise and Windows RT; it also does not it cover XP and Vista. Active SA customers may of course upgrade as part of their SA benefits.

Note that Enterprise customers have SA (Ent is an SA benefit) so they have a free upgrade even without this one-year offer.

I suspect that the other SKUs in businesses (without SA) will have upgrade entitlements in that first year but that has not been explicitly stated. To be honest, there would be no way to enforce it because lots of consumer machines actually do have Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 Pro. And let’s face it, Microsoft wants businesses to upgrade.

When Does the First Year Start?

When Windows 10 is “commercially available”. That is probably the Generally Available (GA) date, which can be several months after the Release To Manufacturing (RTM) date. In other words, when Windows 10 appears in stores either as boxed product or pre-installed machines.

How Long Will You get Windows 10 for Free For?

If your machine was legitimately licensed for Windows 7 or later, you get Windows 10 for free until:

  • The device the OS is installed on stops working
  • Microsoft stops supporting Windows 10

What about Windows RT?

It sounds like there is an “update” for Windows RT, but it might not be an upgrade to Windows 10. Sorry!

What About [Something Else]?

I don’t know yet.

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