Bill Mulls Free, Ad-Supported Windows

Via Paul Thurott:

According to a report on CNET, Microsoft is considering releasing a version of Windows that would be free to the public but would include advertisements. The company is also considering ad-supported versions of Microsoft Works and Microsoft Money, according to CNET.

“As Web advertising grows and consumer revenues shrink, we need to consider creating ad-supported versions of our software,” an internal memo presented to Chairman Bill Gates earlier this year reads.
Microsoft officials later told CNET that although the document is authentic, it doesn’t represent any concrete plans but was rather part of a brainstorming session.

“It is not policy, it is not a plan, and no decisions have been made–it’s just some thoughts from our research and business units,” a source told CNET’s Ina Fried. Recently, Microsoft unveiled the Windows Live and Office Live services, which will connect with the company’s most popular products. Apparently, the company is concerned that competitors such as Sun and Google will launch free, ad-supported versions of the StarOffice 8 office productivity suite, which competes with Microsoft Office. If that happens, Microsoft researchers warn, Microsoft will need to respond with a competitive action.

A few weeks ago, I complained that Microsoft’s mid-1990’s attack on Netscape’s perceived threat caused Microsoft to forever damage Windows by bundling it with Internet Explorer (IE). If Microsoft creates an ad- supported version of Windows in response to Google, the company will simply be responding in a similar manner and the result could make Windows less valuable and viable. For a company that claims to be an innovator, this sort of reactive product planning seems counterproductive.

Sure beats the Winows Bintana idea. 😉

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  • Windows with ads? Nope, I shunned Opera because of this. I’d rather stick to F/OSS. 😉