Windows 12 won’t require you to pay a subscription

Microsoft has no plans to require a subcription that users will have to pay to use Windows 12 as many reports suggested.

Windows 11 Surface laptop
Windows 11 Surface laptop / Image: Mauro Huculak
  • Microsoft won’t require a subscription to use Windows 12.
  • Windows 12 is on track to be available as a free upgrade for compatible devices.
  • The subscription references found in preview builds belong to another project.

On the internet, it has been suggested that Microsoft is contemplating making “Windows 12” an operating system that will require a subscription, but this is not the case. A new report from Windows Central points out that the rumors that have been going around are not true.

Recently, new references (via Neowin) about a subscription of some sort have been spotted inside one of the preview builds of Windows 11 from the Canary Channel, suggesting that Microsoft could be planning to charge monthly fees to use its operating system. However, according to the report, these references (“Subscription Type – L_MsgSubscriptionType (as “Device-Based Subscription” or “User-Based Subscription”)”) found in the “slmgr.ini” file are part of the IoT Enterprise Subscription edition of the operating system, not for Windows 12.

Although there’s a chance that future releases of the operating system may require a subscription to take advantage of specific features, similar to using a Microsoft 365 subscription, it’s unlikely that Microsoft will ever force users to pay to use its desktop version of Windows. The reason is that not only there isn’t enough demand, but no other company is doing this. Google doesn’t have a subscription to use Android or Chrome OS, and Apple isn’t asking for monthly fees to use macOS or iOS.

Of course, this doesn’t include other services outside the operating system that require a subscription, such as Microsoft 365 Family and Personal to access the Office apps, Apple TV+, Apple Music, YouTube Premium, and many others.

Also, Microsoft already has a subscription-based model to monetize its operating system. The service is known as “Windows 365” and offers the ability to access virtual machines in the cloud running Windows 11. The service is currently only available for businesses, but it may one day arrive for regular consumers to offer a more hybrid experience.

Another reason why future releases of Windows will continue to be available for free (excluding new installations that may require the purchase of a license) is that Microsoft already receives revenue from manufacturers as they have to pay the company to preinstall (in this case) Windows 11 and certain apps on new computers, and the operating system includes many types of advertisements to lure users into using many of its services. Also, in a recent update, Windows 11 22H2 introduced the Copilot AI chatbot, which is now showing advertisements below responses.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows How-To Expert who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He has also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 14 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows and software, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and Email him at [email protected].