In its attempt to fend off Google, Microsoft has been considering some very radical proposals — including releasing a free, ad-supported version of Windows.
An internal Microsoft document, published by CNet, says, “As Web advertising grows and consumer revenues shrink, we need to consider creating ad-supported versions of our software.” The document was presented at one of Microsoft’s two-times-a-year “Thinkweek” exercises, where Gates and other top execs meet to discuss the future of the company.
In another document, Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie said that the company had to shift toward ad-supported software. “It’s clear that if we fail to do so, our business as we know it is at risk,” he wrote. “We must respond quickly and decisively.”
Most of the discussion within Microsoft centers around software such as Works or Money, although an ad-supported version of at least components of Office could be considered as well. And the company is also considering making the family jewels available as adware as well. The Thinkweek memo notes that Windows brings in $9 per year per user to Microsoft, and then goes on to say, “It seems possible that we could match that revenue via ads.”
Of course, all this is very theoretical, and don’t expect an ad-supported version of Windows any time soon. But just the fact that the company is discussing it shows how seriously it takes the threat of Google.
Do you think Microsoft should release an ad-supported version of Windows?