Talk of a free edition of Microsoft's Windows OS isn't anything new: the idea has been around since 2005 at the very least. However, Stephen Chapman of MSFTKitchen seems the think the free edition is closer to reality than ever before, especially with businesses pushing to move software into the cloud. After a little digging, he discovered that an actual ad-based version of Windows has actually been created.
The latest finding stems around the LinkedIn profile of a senior program manager at Microsoft. In her "resume," she lists a prototype for advertising model in Windows called "Project Madision," and is supposedly not the same code name used for SQL 2010. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley added her two cents to the speculation, pointing out that Madision (and yes it's misspelled, probably on purpose) may be derived from Madison Avenue in Manhattan: the name of this street is "synonymous with the American advertising industry," says Wikipedia.
If Microsoft is still pursuing the ad-based version, this could alleviate some of the problems with Windows-based piracy, or consumers intent on spreading their one license across multiple computers (via crack). But how would this work? How would Microsoft make revenue out of a free edition? "In theory, you could use a "Windows Ads Edition" or something where you’ve basically opted for ads to stream to you in exchange for your usage of Windows," Chapman surmised.
The idea isn't farfetched. Businesses would certainly scramble to get their ad on millions of Windows-based desktops, and Microsoft would simply float in a sea of money. Naturally, consumers who actually purchase a version of Windows wouldn't receive the ad-based input. Instead, it would be locked on to those individuals who can't afford-- or refuse-- to purchase a copy of Windows, but still want to use the OS in a legal, non-pirating sense.
Would you use a free, ad-based edition of Windows?