'Free' Windows 10 isn't entirely free

Some parts coming with a fee. Should we worry?

Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade isn't entirely free

A few months back when Microsoft said Windows 10 would basically be free to just about everyone, including pirates, the deal seemed too good to be true. Now we're learning that it is.

The internals of Windows 10 follow you and your every move so thoroughly, Microsoft is looking at giving you targeted ads just like it does on Windows Phone. And then there are some features for which they are just plain charging.

The list of charges and fees for Windows 10 is slowly growing:

  • DVD player: There is no DVD player since Microsoft has eliminated the Media Center from Windows 10. If you want a DVD player from Microsoft, you can get it from the Windows Store for $14.99. Or you can get a free one like VLC Player or UMPlayer
  • Solitaire: As part of the Windows 10 bundle you get Microsoft Solitaire Collection, a bunch of variations on the card game that has shipped with every version of Windows since 3.0 in 1991. However, it comes with ads, like you get on mobile apps, and if you want to remove the ads, Microsoft will charge $1.49 a month or $9.99 a year.

Now, it's inevitable that this would happen. But in these two cases, they are also inexplicable. We knew Microsoft wanted to move more toward Windows as a service, and targeted ads were going to be a part of it since they already do it on Windows Phone. Putting mobile ads in apps is how a lot of developers survive. 

But the choices are just bizarre. Why on earth would anyone pay for a DVD player from Microsoft when there are free ones out there, stable, mature products that have been available for some time, as opposed to a $15 barebones product from Microsoft? I'm not upset about this like some people seem to be, I'm just baffled. Who would fork over $15 for this thing?

As for the solitaire, it could be Microsoft testing the waters to see how much it can get away with. Solitaire is a Windows staple, but that was before smartphones. You can get a nice Solitaire app for a smartphone without ads, or at the very least cheaper than $9.99.

Both of these strike me as trial balloons, with Microsoft floating a few apps to test the market and see how people will react. The online reaction has been generally negative, but you never know. It could be that a year from now there are ads everywhere and we find ourselves paying to remove the nuisance. 

But then again, given that Windows used to sell for $149, give or take a few bucks, Microsoft isn't exactly bleeding us. We still come out ahead given how much we've saved on the OS. Use VLC or UMP and play Solitaire on your iPhone.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.