During its Windows 10 event in Redmond this morning, Microsoft announced that the new OS will be a free upgrade for the first year after launch. Folks running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 will all be able to get the latest hotness free of charge.
The freebie was introduced by Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive VP for operating systems. Interestingly, Myerson also said that Windows 10 is "so much more than a free, one-time upgrade." "With Windows 10, we think of Windows as a service," he said, adding that the OS "redefines the relationship between us and our customers."
Meyerson stopped short of mentioning subscription-style pricing, but it sounds like that could be a future possibility for the OS. Microsoft wants to get more users on the same version of the Windows, making it easier for the company to push out updates—and for developers to target a larger audience.
Update: During a subsequent Q&A session that wasn't part of the live stream, Microsoft head Satya Nadella reportedly said references to Windows 10 as a service relate to how the operating system will be updated—not to how customers will pay for it. Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley tweets "Nadella says calling #Windows10 a service does not imply change in biz model." #Phew.