A free Windows 8 is the best strategy for Microsoft

To consumers, Microsoft has claimed that Windows 8, released in October 2012, is beautiful, fast and flexible. In the business world, Microsoft knows that its newest operating system is critical for its future and the entire Windows 8 lineup, if it succeeds, will allow Microsoft to stay competitive and relevant in the technology industry crowded by younger companies. That's true, and that is exactly why Microsoft should have launched Windows 8 at the price of "free."


Paid Upgrade, No Thanks.
Currently, Microsoft advertises an upgrade to Windows 8 on the PC to start at $39.99. That price is too steep for the typical PC user, without even mentioning the $69.99 base price for the Pro version at Best Buy. For many who are running Windows 7 or earlier, and are content with their system, Windows 8 will just be another cycle that's insignificant to them.

Instead, back in October, and even now, Microsoft should have sold a Windows 8 upgrade for $0.00. They have the resources to do so. It might make me look crazy, but think about it this way: it's a gateway to other Microsoft products (the rest of the Windows 8 lineup, RT and Phone) and a true introduction to the new Microsoft.

Windows 8 boasts "Live Tiles."


Incentive Needed for Learning Curve.
Technology enthusiasts may understand that Windows 8 actually consists of a traditional PC and mobile ecosystem, all wrapped into one. It may be clear to them that Windows 8 is built for laptops and PC's, Windows 8 RT is built for tablets and Windows Phone is built for smartphones. All three versions have Live Tiles and similar features that show all are truly from one family.

But what about the general public? Many people have no clue, and could care less, what Windows 8 is, much less Windows 8 RT (Surface) and Windows Phone 8. The market is filled with Android and iOS devices that are much more familiar than the Windows 8 interface.

How do Live Tiles even help keep track of what's important in life? How is Windows 8, along with the RT and Phone version, "reinvented around the user?" The new interface scares many people. And, those same people will not want to pay fo something just to have to learn how to do the simplest tasks all over again, especially if nothing is broken the way it is now.

The word "free" speaks volumes. No one likes change, but everyone likes free and new things. The confusion and nerves would disappear if they were somehow exposed to Windows 8, and that's the best way. If Microsoft pushed a free upgrade to existing PC users, who then became accustomed to Windows 8, Live Tiles and all the features that come with it, guess what will happen when they see a Surface tablet or a Windows Phone 8 with Live Tiles the next time they're at an electronic store looking for a tablet or smartphone?

By introducing people to Windows 8 in the PC environment, which Microsoft undoubtedly dominates, more and more people will understand the new Windows brand and interface, in turn spurring sales of the mobile versions of Windows (RT and Phone) because they've been familiarized with it. Microsoft could even have given away free SkyDrive storage, and required download by way of signing up for an Outlook address, further tying in all of Microsoft's properties, in a full-throttle marketing ploy.

This would have done more for Microsoft than what the $39.99 for a Windows 8 upgrade ever will.