Is a subscription version of Windows 10 on the way?

Rumours indicate that Microsoft could be set to launch a subscription based version of its Windows operating system.

According to Neowin, the Redmond-based firm has recently trademarked “Windows 365,” suggesting that the OS could go down a similar route to the company’s Office 365 software.

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Office 365 was launched in June 2011 and operates on a rolling release model, paid for on a subscription basis. Estimates suggest that the service’s userbase is growing, with in excess of 30 million believed to be paid subscribers.

It is expected that Window 365, if it is released, will be a cloud-based version of the OS, available for an annual fee. However, Microsoft's decision to grant Windows 10 as a free download to Windows 7 and 8 users may well slow the growth of any proposed subscription service.

Windows 10 is currently in public beta testing and is expected to launch fully later this year. As such, it is highly unlikely that Microsoft would look to launch another version of Windows anytime in the near future.

However, by trademarking the Windows 365 name now, the firm ensures that it will have the naming rights should it decide to go ahead with the service at a later date.

The subscription pricing model has become increasingly popular with both businesses and individuals alike over recent years. Aside from the success of Office 365, the growth of services like Netflix and Spotify indicates that consumers are willing to embrace platforms that deliver content as and when they want it.

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As such, a month-by-month payment plan for the next Windows operating system might be preferable to a large one-off fee in the minds of some consumers.