Microsoft has thus far been extremely flexible with Windows 10 pricing. It offered the update for free to users for months, and even after that there were ways to get the upgrade at no cost if you knew where to go. When the OS is still struggling to gain market share, increasing the price seems like a bad idea, but that’s just what Microsoft seems to be planning. A new edition of Windows 10 called Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is coming soon, and the version realignment will likely increase costs for system builders, ZDNet reports. Those costs will probably end up being passed down to consumers, too.
Windows 10 Pro for Workstations will include the company’s enterprise-oriented tools and features to support server-grade hardware. It will be positioned above Pro in the Windows 10 family, so it’ll have all the Pro features plus a whole lot more. The Workstation edition includes Microsoft’s ReFS file system, persistent memory, SBM direct file sharing, and expanded hardware support (CPU clusters and huge volumes of memory). These are mostly features consumers won’t need, but the pricing increase could still affect you.
Based on reports from customers who have been contacted by system builders, Microsoft is planning to change the way it licenses Windows 10 going forward. Instead of letting the OEM decide which SKUs get which version, it will be based on the processor inside the machine. For a system with four or fewer cores, a Windows license is expected to increase $70. For a machine with more than four cores, Microsoft is looking at a $230 price increase for the manufacturer. The OEM could choose to swallow that cost, but with margins as low as they are on PCs, that seems unlikely.
Anyone looking to pick up a system running Intel Xeon or AMD Opteron processors in the coming months will probably also be stuck with the more expensive Windows 10 Pro for Workstations. Microsoft reportedly plans to require that version on such systems. A future update will also add support for Intel Core i9 and Ryzen Threadripper chips, possibly in March or April next year. That would be an optional upgrade for users, but OEMs would still be subject to higher licensing costs because of all the cores in those parts.
Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is expected to launch in the coming weeks when the new Fall Creators Update rolls out widely. That’s happening on October 17th, and it’s a good idea to check your build number. Microsoft is done updating the 1511 build from two years ago. You’ll be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for Workstations, but Microsoft has not provided pricing for that yet.
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