What Windows’ “Microsoft Managed Desktop” Will (And Won’t!) Do

Recently, news leaked about a plan Microsoft has up its sleeves. It’s called “Microsoft Managed Desktop,” and the basic idea is that Microsoft will be offering Windows 10 machines on a subscription basis. Of course, this has caused a lot of fear-mongering on the Internet, as computer news sites claim that this is Microsoft’s big push to charging a monthly fee for Windows 10.

Fortunately for Windows 10 users, this simply isn’t the case! Microsoft is not trying to push to make your operating system a paid subscription service. It’s just Microsoft trying a new avenue of business to provide better services to companies. So, what is this “Microsoft Managed Desktop” exactly? Well, Mary Jo Foley recently talked to some contacts about this new service, and she laid out the reality of what this service truly is.

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One of the biggest problems companies have had with Windows is its updates. They have to be careful with what updates to install: if an update turns out to be problematic and crashes computers, it can very easily jam up business and put a halt on trading. Likewise, if the business is using bespoke software, a careless Windows Update can cause it to lose functionality or stop working altogether. In short, using the default Windows updates can be a risky thing for businesses to do.

Microsoft is trying to tackle this by using Microsoft Managed Desktop. The idea behind this scheme is that companies can lease Windows 10 machines from Microsoft, which will in turn be tailored to fit the business’ needs. The settings and system will be tweaked to match what the company wants, and the updates pushed to the computers will suit the machine it’s being sent to.

This is Microsoft’s newest step into a business model called “desktop-as-a-service,” where computer desktops are offered for a monthly fee. The extra money is used to provide the operating system as a running service tailored to your needs, rather than a base product everyone has.

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Now that we’ve analysed this new “Windows 10 as a paid service” scheme for business, we can easily see where all the sensationalist media came from.  When cast in the right light, it can be framed as Microsoft dipping a hand into the wallets of its existing userbase. Fortunately (for now!), this move is only directed at companies who want customised Windows machines that are tailored specifically to their business.

So, in short, you don’t have to fork over money to continue using Windows 10. You also don’t have to pay Microsoft to tinker with your computer’s settings or have them spy on your preferences. In fact, you won’t have to do anything at all – unless you’re a business owner who’s interested in this new prospect, that is!

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So we know that Microsoft Managed Desktop is not aimed at us, the personal consumer. Despite this, it’s still a venture in a direction which may end in a service targeted at the consumer. So, how likely is it that we’ll see Windows 10 become a paid subscription service for everyone?

For one, Windows 10 already has some money-making assets within it. If you click the Start menu on a fresh install, you’ll see a lot of pre-installed games and ads for more. This means Microsoft can gain some income from users after the operating system has been installed, even from those who upgraded to 10 for free.

On the other hand, Microsoft is definitely not shy about turning products into subscription-based services. You only have to look as far as Office 365, a subscription cloud-based service that was designed to replace regular Office software. If Microsoft sticks by its guns on their claim that they will never release a Windows 11, then a subscription service introduced later down the line may be a good way to squeeze extra pennies out of the Windows 10 userbase.

While sites are reporting that Microsoft is introducing monthly payments for Windows 10, the truth is that Microsoft Managed Desktop is actually a plan to help businesses get the bespoke service they need. Windows 10 isn’t becoming a subscription-based desktop-as-a-service just yet, but this may very well be the writing on the wall for Microsoft’s future plans with the operating system.

What do you think? Do you think Windows 10 will ever introduce monthly subscription payments? And if so, how far down will it go? Will it unlock additional features and services, or will the entire operating system be tied to a payment? Let us know below.

Image credit: Samsung Galaxy TabPro S

3 comments

  1. “Microsoft is not trying to push to make your operating system a paid subscription service.”
    Please! Software (including the O/S) as a Service has been MS’s goal from the day the term was coined. Today they are offering SaaS to businesses as a “convenience”. Within couple of years they will force everybody, including the private users, to subscribe to all their products. Talk about vendor lock in! Microsoft is using the frog in the cooking pot as a model. If you throw a frog into a pot of hot water, he will try to jump out. But if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and then turn on the heat, the frog will happily be boiled. If MS went to universal SaaS as part of Win 10 implementation, there would be a general uproar and rebellion. But they are getting there one step at a time. By the time the average user notices, it will be too late. They will either have to subscribe to ALL their software or they will have to completely switch to Linux or another O/S.

    • While I share a lot of your sentiments about Microsoft (in spite of your over-reaction to one of my past posts), once again I believe you are over-reacting. Although it did not surprise me that they offer Desktop as a Service in similar fashion to Office 365, I’m not as convinced either that they will insist upon it from everyone in the future, or that users are as blind to the possibility as you insist (“too late”, in your words).

      For my part, I will happily switch to Linux if Microsoft ever reaches the point where I must pay subscription fees for their products or O/S. I imagine that many others would do exactly the same, but it IS their choice, after all (frogs in kettles notwithstanding).

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