Windows 12 could move to a subscription model — here’s what we know

When the time comes to upgrade from Windows 11 to Windows 12, it might not be free. Instead, it appears Microsoft might be moving to a subscription-based model for its next-gen operating system, according to a recent leak.

The leak suggesting a subscription-based OS comes from German media outlet Deskmodder (via Neowin), who found multiple entries in the INI configuration file of the Canary channel build that mentioned subscriptions. Windows enthusiasts might not be too surprised by this move, but it’ll still prove controversial, if it’s true.

Translated entries suggest a Windows 12 subscription

Deskmodder was comparing the INI configuration file of the Canary channel build with the Windows 11 23H2 Release Preview build using the WinMerge program. The site shared images of the compared code, highlighting where subscription-related entries were found. 

(Image credit: Deskmodder)

Because Deskmodder is a German media outlet, the entries in the image are naturally in German. Neowin provides an English-translated version of a few of the entries shown in the image.

The first part of the entries highlighted in the image are in English, and a few notable entries include Subscription Edition, Subscription Type, and Subscription Status. Following the Subscription Type entry, there are two German entries (“Gerätebasiertes Abonnement” and “Benutzerbasiertes Abonnement”) that translate to Device-Based Subscription and User-Based Subscription.

Then, following the Subscription Status entry, there are four German entries (“Aktiv,” “Nicht aktiv,” “Deaktiviert,” and “Abgelaufen”) that translate to Active, Inactive, Deactivated, and Expired.

In the past, Microsoft has always offered a free upgrade for current Windows users, so if the company sticks with this subscription-based model, there’s likely going to be some backlash. Of course, nothing has been confirmed by Microsoft, so these are all just Windows 12 rumors right now. Windows 12 may arrive in 2024, so we might not have to wait long for confirmation.

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