Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 21st Nov 2008 00:11 UTC, submitted by Moulinneuf
Windows Every now and then, an article pops up which argues that it would make sense for Microsoft to offer a free, ad-powered version of Windows. "We are all aware that Google is the king of online advertising. Microsoft has wanted to compete in that space forever, which is why giving away Windows 7 makes so much sense," Business Pundit argues, "Let's look at the numbers; Microsoft's operating systems are on 90% of the world's computers, or roughly one billion machines. That's penetration on a massive scale. Even Google has to be impressed." While these articles make some valid points, they rarely dive into the actual details.
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One minor point
by jjezabek on Fri 21st Nov 2008 00:30 UTC
jjezabek
Member since:
2005-08-07

Microsoft's Windows revenue is at least 50% bigger than Google's total revenue. So why should they kill one of their biggest cash cows to compete in another (smaller) market?

Btw. What keeps MS from making Windows 7 both ad-supported and non-free?

Reply Score: 5

RE: One minor point
by Moredhas on Fri 21st Nov 2008 08:10 UTC in reply to "One minor point"
Moredhas Member since:
2008-04-10

I was about to post something to that effect - about MS making it ad-supported and non-free, I mean. People with pay TV still see ads, and they still sit down to watch those "World's Greatest Commercials" specials once in a while. The vast majority wouldn't care, unfortunately, and Microsoft would have a new way to make their OS slower, less secure, and grow fatter off the public. They could get away with murder and the stupid (and obviously masochistic) public would put up with it and ask nicely for more.

Reply Score: 3

RE: One minor point
by BigDaddy on Fri 21st Nov 2008 14:28 UTC in reply to "One minor point"
BigDaddy Member since:
2006-08-10

Microsoft is already doing this. Think about it; Windows media player, MSN messenger, internet explorer... these are all vehicles for advertising. MS doesn't need to provide a free ad supported OS because the paid OS is already ad supported.

Reply Score: 4

Antitrust is the reason....
by rdean400 on Fri 21st Nov 2008 00:54 UTC
rdean400
Member since:
2006-10-18

If Microsoft gives away Windows with the intent of harming Google, that will certainly, and legitimately, raise antitrust concerns.

Microsoft is drawing too much scrutiny nowadays to netscape Google.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Antitrust is the reason....
by frank on Mon 24th Nov 2008 02:38 UTC in reply to "Antitrust is the reason...."
frank Member since:
2005-07-08

Google is already giving away their services and software, so MS is only reducing price to the market level.

Reply Score: 2

Johann Chua Member since:
2005-07-22

Um, Google relies on ad revenue and selling it's search services to large websites.

Reply Score: 2

it's written monopoly suit all over the place
by dvhh on Fri 21st Nov 2008 01:10 UTC
dvhh
Member since:
2006-03-20

Even if they have a very small share of the market today ( in advertising space ), I cannot see how they can escape in that case a monopoly suit.

Reply Score: 1

v Grasping at straws...
by centos_user on Fri 21st Nov 2008 01:25 UTC
RE: Grasping at straws...
by Adurbe on Fri 21st Nov 2008 12:02 UTC in reply to "Grasping at straws..."
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

Microsoft inovate and compete as well, if not better than any other company... until they win

Prime example of this was IE6 which was a very good browser when it was being developed. Netscape died and so did the need to develop it further.

Mozilla/Safari came along, started getting 'enough' market share and Microsoft started developing again. IE7 seemed to be 'catch up' and IE8 is looking to be a 'build a lead' release

I recon that once OSX and Linux start becoming a genuine threat to them windows development will go through the roof!

(arguably Vista was the 'catchup' release and 7 will be the 'build a lead' release)

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Grasping at straws...
by lemur2 on Fri 21st Nov 2008 13:48 UTC in reply to "RE: Grasping at straws..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Mozilla/Safari came along, started getting 'enough' market share and Microsoft started developing again. IE7 seemed to be 'catch up' and IE8 is looking to be a 'build a lead' release


IE6 is in decline. IE7 picks up some of the losses, but not all, so that the rate of increase of IE7 is only about half to one third of the rate of decline of IE6.

Therefore the overall share IE6 + IE7 is decreasing. Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari are all increasing share. Firefox enjoys the bulk of the increases.

IE8 is too low to be measured at this time, since it has not yet been released to a wide audience.

I don't know where you get this notion of IE7 being a "catch up" ... it is a long way behind firefox and losing ground.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Grasping at straws...
by Adurbe on Fri 21st Nov 2008 16:45 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Grasping at straws..."
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

Its 'catch up' in the respect it included tabs, rss and security :-p

IE7 is good enough that many people done HAVE to switch to firefox or anything else

My point was really that Microsoft only inovate when they have competion and 'something to beat'

IE 6 is an example, in my opinion, of a product that was allowed to stagnate because of the lack of anything credible to compete against at the time

Remember that firefox (Phoenix) wasnt even yet around when ie 6 came out and netscape were basically dead

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Grasping at straws...
by StaubSaugerNZ on Fri 21st Nov 2008 19:32 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Grasping at straws..."
StaubSaugerNZ Member since:
2007-07-13

Remember that firefox (Phoenix) wasnt even yet around when ie 6 came out and netscape were basically dead


Utter rubbish. Plenty of us were using 'Mozilla' long before Firefox was split off. Just because The Followers didn't know about it doesn't mean the Early Adopters weren't aware of it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Grasping at straws...
by modmans2ndcoming on Fri 21st Nov 2008 21:25 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Grasping at straws..."
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

The point is that Mozy was a pile of turd and could not compete with IE 6. it took a retooling of the mozy code to create firefox and start throwign punches back at MS.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Grasping at straws...
by rajan r on Sat 22nd Nov 2008 06:39 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Grasping at straws..."
rajan r Member since:
2005-07-27

Uhm, people did know about Mozilla. Seamonkey-based Netscape 6 did horribly in the market (and probably sealed Netscape's fate), as did most early versions of Seamonkey. There was a reason why Firefox eventually replaced Seamonkey: Seamonkey was slow and buggy.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Grasping at straws...
by BluenoseJake on Sat 22nd Nov 2008 16:25 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Grasping at straws..."
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

Early adopters are not, and never have been, MS's core target audience.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Grasping at straws...
by StaubSaugerNZ on Sun 23rd Nov 2008 02:43 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Grasping at straws..."
StaubSaugerNZ Member since:
2007-07-13

Early adopters are not, and never have been, MS's core target audience.


True. However the earlier poster's assertion that there was nothing usable before Phoenix, which is untrue (early adopters saw some merit in Mozilla).

Reply Score: 2

Horrible
by MechaShiva on Fri 21st Nov 2008 02:30 UTC
MechaShiva
Member since:
2005-07-06

When people are using their computer and an ad pops up...they call me cause their computer is broken. And this guy thinks it's a good idea if Microsoft just went balls deep and make that the baseline condition (yes, I am stretching a bit here, but bear with me)? How would this work?

"My computer keeps getting these pop ups! Help!"
"Turns out your computer is supposed to do that now. At least it doesn't slow down as much with these sanctioned ads from...hello?"

Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way. Maybe they would want to convince people that advertising pop ups and spyware are normal and a beneficial user experience. If you gotta get slammed with spyware and adware, it may as well be somewhat targetted and not all a bunch of big dick pill ads.

Reply Score: 8

While he's at it...
by _txf_ on Fri 21st Nov 2008 02:36 UTC
_txf_
Member since:
2008-03-17

Why doesn't microsoft open source windows, fire all their devs and let the community decide the future of their operating system.

Or better yet, put a paypal donate button on their home page and installer. Pay their devs directly from that pot.

lol. Never.going.to.happen

Reply Score: 5

JonathanBThompson
Member since:
2006-05-26

All this time, one edge of widescreen displays has been horribly underutilized by so many Windows users, since there's a human ergonomics issue with having too wide of text displays for readability. Simple solution: make sure that people still have the old aspect ratio of 4:3 for screen real estate for regular applications, and they'll be none the wiser, all while having ads placed on the remaining "extra" width that people weren't using before!

Well, that seems to be the drug-induced thoughts this guest writer has in mind, or something along those lines. Here's a great question: what about computers that aren't online, do they just not work unless they're online and displaying ads?

On the other hand, if you think about it, there's a distinct advantage long-term for ads, if you make it impossible to hide the ad-bar on the side with other windows: by definition, people using a Windows PC are more likely to be awake and at the computer and seeing those ads than not, more readily measurable by keyboard/mouse usage than TV viewers. As long as Microsoft was able to ensure that the Ad Service was never disabled, this may actually be a better, sustainable revenue stream for the really long tail: it wouldn't matter whether or not they updated the OS or trying to get people to use a new one, because at least they'd have a steady income stream for as long as people used the machine, and didn't find some way to disable the ads (yeah, right!). In that case, as long as people didn't find ways to bypass the ads, Windows 7 as a viral product (I know I've had my computer's BIOS complain of a boot sector virus when installing Windows before, so...) may work to their advantage.

But, again, let's go back to reality: how would Microsoft determine which ads to place on whose computers? Would that include monitoring everything that the user did on their PCs? Yeah, that'll go over like a turd in a punch bowl!

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

All this time, one edge of widescreen displays has been horribly underutilized by so many Windows users, since there's a human ergonomics issue with having too wide of text displays for readability. Simple solution: make sure that people still have the old aspect ratio of 4:3 for screen real estate for regular applications, and they'll be none the wiser, all while having ads placed on the remaining "extra" width that people weren't using before!


Sure. Microsoft puts ads on the side of the widescreens, and competitors give away free and open applications (which will run on Windows, Mac or Linux) that make far better use of the widescreen aspect ratio.

http://www.koffice.org/announcements/announce-2.0beta3.php
http://www.koffice.org/announcements/pics/2008_10_18_karbon_pdf.png

As you say ... perhaps not the greatest idea ever.

Edited 2008-11-21 05:43 UTC

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

As long as Microsoft was able to ensure that the Ad Service was never disabled


Unfortunately for Microsoft this would be the easiest thing in the world to circumvent ... just wipe Windows.

If Windows was free but annoyingly cluttered with ads, and there was a free, open, better performing and add free alternative available ... why wouldn't people just wipe Windows?

Nothing lost by wiping ... Windows didn't cost anything remeber?

Reply Score: 2

JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

It appears you didn't fully catch my subtle sarcasm encoded in my post, clearly explaining why this would be an example of a successful failure ;)

Edited 2008-11-21 19:55 UTC

Reply Score: 2

ad-what?
by Javier O. Augusto on Fri 21st Nov 2008 03:15 UTC
Javier O. Augusto
Member since:
2005-08-10

Dear Thom,

What people (not me) are looking for is a LESS BLOATED Windows version.

and I mean it.

Reply Score: 3

It's been tried before...
by TemporalBeing on Fri 21st Nov 2008 03:36 UTC
TemporalBeing
Member since:
2007-08-22

...and the company failed.

Typical screen resolutions were 640x480 at the time - they used a 600x800 and let the user have 640x480, and filled the rest with ads. Ads were downloaded every night. Users got a Free Windows PC and Free Internet too I think.

At least, they completely exited that kind of market...

Reply Score: 1

I'd love it!
by looncraz on Fri 21st Nov 2008 03:38 UTC
looncraz
Member since:
2005-07-24

It would be VERY helpful for the truly FREE ( as in beer ) operating systems!

Of course, no self-respecting OEM would put that on their machines, so it would never happen, but still...

Pop-ups wouldn't be the right way, an integrated widget would certainly be. I'd think just making the Vista sidebar mandatory, and only allow it to display rotating ads - while requiring an internet connection, and configure it so that no window could cover it would be the best use for the sidebar :-).

--The loon

Reply Score: 4

Why bother
by REM2000 on Fri 21st Nov 2008 12:23 UTC
REM2000
Member since:
2006-07-25

As other posters have said Microsoft do quite well with the resale of Windows and Office. I don't think i like the idea of an OS that is tied in with an advertising stream. Applications are one thing but to have the whole OS is another, as the OS has to be universal and a solid foundation for your computer experience.

If Microsoft wants to improve their ad revenue then they are going to have to continue with traditional means.

I do think however Microsoft should make Windows 7 a lot cheaper at retail. I do think that a good solid premium release should be around the £100 mark. Although i do believe that windows client should be sold in two versions (in a uptopia one version a la Win2k) Home and Business (drop the Pro mokia) As it's been shown in sales really only home premium and business were purchased.

The only thing i would recommend that Microsoft do with the release of Windows 7 is to put togeather a solid release marketing / party blitz. I would recommend at taking shots at other OS's (even though they do the same) and just concentrate on telling consumers and businesses a like, all of the great features and reasons for upgrading.

Make it exciting, get some clever number 7 branding and slogan and most importantly don't forget the enthuiasts , if you get them excited then the buzz spread's pretty quickly.

The launch of Vista was pretty poor and flopped around like the product itself at launch.

Reply Score: 2

the ultimate UAC
by defdog99 on Fri 21st Nov 2008 18:32 UTC
defdog99
Member since:
2006-09-06

Random UAC window's wanting us to eat more Hotpockets...

Fantastic.

More UAC please.

Reply Score: 1

How sustainable is this?
by Yamin on Fri 21st Nov 2008 22:21 UTC
Yamin
Member since:
2006-01-10

It seems people want everything to be free or ad-supported... and then they naturally find a way out of seeing the ads ;) Just how sustainable of a business model is this? What products would we even advertise if everything is free ;)

And then we have the nerve to complain where all the 'good jobs' go? When you want everything as cheaply as possible and everything to be commodotized as quickly as possible... something is going to give.

By paying the 'microsoft tax' or the 'cisco tax' or other measures, you are supporting the industry that keeps people working. Now how do you balance getting things as cheaply as possible with paying for products from 'good companies'? I don't know, but it is something to think about.

Reply Score: 2

RE: How sustainable is this?
by lemur2 on Mon 24th Nov 2008 02:31 UTC in reply to "How sustainable is this?"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Now how do you balance getting things as cheaply as possible with paying for products from 'good companies'? I don't know, but it is something to think about.


Commodity software companies write software once, then charge for it millions upon millions of times over, at huge profit margins per copy. This is a free market failure.

The economy as a whole is far better off without the millions and millions of repeated charges for the same piece of work being paid to just one software company.

The savings in the wider economy (gained say by using open and interoperable commodity software developed in collaboration) would be worth many, many times the lost value (to the economy) of one monopoly commodity software company. This is because users of software outnumber providers of software by many millions to one.

Most software written, BTW, is specialist software, with very few copies actually run. It is commodity software, rather than this specialist software, where there is a market failure at the moment, due to a single dominant monopoly supplier.

How sustainable is collaboration software development? As sustainable as any other intellectual development effort that is funded by the wider community directly, and not by the sale of products ... such as scientific research, for example. That has been funded by the wider community for a number of millenia now, so it has to be seen as somewhat proven by now, surely ...

Edited 2008-11-24 02:40 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: How sustainable is this?
by Yamin on Mon 24th Nov 2008 20:23 UTC in reply to "RE: How sustainable is this?"
Yamin Member since:
2006-01-10

Fair points... however, I question when you speak of 'commodity' software as somehow being useless to support. There are certain industries where the knowledge base exists and you need to support that knowledge base... even if it is inefficient per say.

For example, even if your country stops space exploration, does it make sense to stop spending money on aerospace? No, because the knowledge base is very deep and specific. To train people in those fields in the industry is very difficult and time consuming. You have to keep those industries running even if it is not the most efficient. You can keep all the books and knowledge on paper and have some people hacking away at things but to have industry experts trained and ready to go when needed is very difficult without them being active on a product. This is similar to power plants which keep running at night even when there is no demand, because to shutdown/restart them would be too costly.

What you classify as commodity software is a very shallow layer. More important than the software itself is the domain level knowledge. In the case of Microsoft, it is Operating System design... In the case of Cisco/Juniper... networking, chip design Intel or AMD. There is a huge gap between industrial knowledge of these systems and just knowing about them from an academic sense.

As I said, I think as an industry we haven't given enough thought to the long term preservation of industry knowledge. Everyone is thinking of short term growth and profits and cost savings... including apparently some engineers.

Reply Score: 1

RE: How sustainable is this?
by lemur2 on Mon 24th Nov 2008 03:29 UTC in reply to "How sustainable is this?"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

It seems people want everything to be free or ad-supported... and then they naturally find a way out of seeing the ads ;) Just how sustainable of a business model is this? What products would we even advertise if everything is free


The following activities represent billions and billions of dollars of lost productivity to the world economy, due almost entirely to the current "free enterprise" (read: monopoly/cartel/racketeering) method of development of commodity software (and its attendant need to keep the inner workings of the software as a secret):

- Effort spent in overcoming format and protocol incompatibilities (which are deliberately created by commodity software providers)
- IP royalties, software patents and associated payments,
- Other IP lawsuits, including copyright and trademark cases,
- IP trolls, and the cost of defending against them,
- Stifling of innovation,
- IT upgrade treadmill
- The entire "PC security" postmarket on Windows
- Spyware and malware in general, and the effort spent combatting it,
- Spam,
- Botnets and accompanying criminal activities, including theft from credit cards and banking accounts
- Internet scams

... I'm sure there are many other costs. All of these costly activities are an utter, utter waste of time, effort and money (on non-productive persuits) which litterally cost the majority of the population billions per year in un-necessary and avoidable costs. It is an enormous drain on the economy.

How sustainable is that? That is the real question. How long is the general wider software market going to put up with this absloute nonsense and utter waste of their money?

All of this enormous drain on the economy could be dissipated almost entirely if software development was simply made a community-funded collaborative effort for the common good ... just as pure scientific research always has been (but even that is becoming corrupted of late with the encroachment of commercial vested interest).

Edited 2008-11-24 03:32 UTC

Reply Score: 2