Rumor that Windows 12 will charge a subscription fee is shot down in flames

This speculation about a subscription model for next-gen Windows that rumbled down from the rumor mill earlier this week always seemed sketchy.

2 minutes & 1 second read time

If you've been following news around Microsoft this week, you may well have seen an alarming suggestion that the next version of Windows will be subscription-based - the good news is that this isn't true.

It's doubtful Microsoft could get away with demanding a monthly fee for Windows (Image Credit: Microsoft)

It's doubtful Microsoft could get away with demanding a monthly fee for Windows (Image Credit: Microsoft)

Let's rewind a bit to where this rumor came from. It originated from German tech site Deskmodder, which discovered some entries in a configuration file in a Windows 11 preview build (from the Canary channel).

Those entries mentioned things like subscription status and subscription type, leading to some speculation that this might be the groundwork for some kind of subscription model coming to Windows.

Clearly, it would be the next generation of the desktop operating system, thought to be Windows 12 (though it could be called anything, of course).

Well, it turns out that those bits and pieces in the config file do not foretell Microsoft demanding Windows users fork over a monthly fee, as Windows Central made clear.

Zac Bowden of Windows Central tells us that the references to subscriptions are "almost definitely" related to the 'IoT Enterprise Subscription' version of Windows, and not the next-gen consumer version.

So, you can breathe easier on that score. Indeed, from a tiny few clues like the aforementioned nuggets, it was already a massive leap to make to reach 'Windows 12 will charge a monthly fee.'

What seems more likely to us, in fact, is that Microsoft will monetize next-gen Windows with adverts (as well as charging for it - not a subscription, but the usual one-off payment, though upgrades from Windows 11 may well still be free).

Advertisements are being experimented with continually in Windows 11, or nudges (badging as Microsoft calls it), and they are now in Copilot on the desktop, too. This is an avenue Microsoft is certainly exploring with some gusto for Bing AI and Windows, and surely far more likely than any subscription antics.

That said, as Bowden points out, there could be elements of Windows that become subscription-based. That's entirely feasible - if Microsoft puts in some cool extras, special features for the Copilot AI springing to mind as a potential carrot that could be charged for, then a small fee might be levied to use those.

That probably won't be until some way down the line, though. Copilot has only just been launched to the release version of Windows 11, and there's a long way to go in terms of how the AI can interact with the desktop environment yet.

Windows 12 as a subscription-based product seems very unlikely to happen, though. As we noted, it's more likely to become an ad-supported product - at least to a greater extent than it is now - if anything (and we're not saying that will happen either).

Darren has written for numerous magazines and websites in the technology world for almost 30 years, including TechRadar, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, Computeractive, and many more. He worked on his first magazine (PC Home) long before Google and most of the rest of the web existed. In his spare time, he can be found gaming, going to the gym, and writing books (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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