In the next month or two, Microsoft will be releasing Redstone 4 and with it will come a significant amount of changes to how the company is positioning its software as well as pricing it for its partners. Recently, I was able to view some content being shared with select partners that details the company’s plans and changes coming to Windows 10.
When it comes to SKUs, the story is quite interesting in how Microsoft sells licensing to partners. In fact, there are a total of five SKUs available for partners to utilize for consumers but they all have a defined set of parameters based on the hardware specifications.
The SKUs are Entry, Value, Core, Core+, and Advanced. On the surface, you might be thinking that Microsoft is about to go nuts with new SKUs of Windows 10 and keep in mind this is pricing for partners; further, it would not surprise me to learn that pricing is reduced as well for larger OEMs or bulk orders.
Below is a breakdown of the SKUs:
- Entry: Intel Atom/Celeron/Pentium ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤ 32GB SSD AND ≤ 14.1” screen size (NB), ≤ 11.6” (2in1, Tablet), ≥ 17” AiO
- Value: Intel Atom/Celeron/Pentium ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤64GB SSD & ≤ 14.1” screen size (EM ≤ 4GB RAM & ≤64GB SSD or ≤ 500GB HDD)
- Core: Cannot be used on devices that meet the Core+ and Advanced SKU Hardware Specifications
- Core +: High end CPU and >4 GB RAM (All Form Factors) ≥8 GB RAM & ≥1080p screen resolution (NB, 2in1, AiO) >8 GB RAM & ≥2TB HDD or SSD storage (Desktop)
- Advanced: Intel Core i9 (any configuration) OR Core i7 ≥ 6 Cores (any RAM) OR AMD Threadripper(any configuration) OR Intel Core i7 >16GB (any Cores) or AMD FX/ Ryzen7 >16GB (any Cores) OR ≥ 4K screen resolution (any processor, includes 4K UHD-3840 resolution
Pricing for the SKUs is as follows: Advanced ($101), Core + ($86.66), Core ($65.45), Value ($45), and Entry ($25). Also, Windows 10 S is dead, it’s now Windows 10 S mode and the baseline SKU will be going away but each version will have an S mode.
What Microsoft is doing here, which isn’t too different from what they have done in the past, is that they charge more money for a Windows 10 license based on the hardware that is included. If you are buying a rig that is more powerful, the license costs more but for an entry-level device, the prices drop significantly.
Starting on April 2nd, these new SKUs and pricing will go into effect with the new pricing for Home Advanced going into effect on May 1st.
Also, Microsoft is indicating that there will be a $49 charge for Pro S users to switch to the full version of Windows 10 Pro. So, for those users hoping that the upgrade would be free forever, it looks like that will not be the case according to the documents I was able to view.
For device configuration in 2018, the company is pushing its partners to set Edge as the default browser, installing the LinkedIn UWP app, pre-install Office, and limiting app pinning to 1 legacy win 32 app on the desktop, 1 legacy app on the taskbar and for the Start menu, 25% Win32/75% Microsoft Store.
For those who like to monitor how Microsoft is pushing OEMs and understanding the SKUs for the OS, this should provide some clarity about how Microsoft works with its partners. Further, the pricing, while likely much higher than what OEMs actually pay for a license, provides a baseline for understanding when and how Microsoft causing inflation of PC pricing for different types of hardware.