Microsoft is giving away Windows 10 for free until mid 2016 to customers running Windows 7 or Windows 8 machines. The move, designed to get as many users as possible on the platform, raised questions in regards to how Microsoft will make money with the operating system if it hands it out for free.
Some suggested that Windows 10 would be turned into a subscription service after the first year period or shortly thereafter, but there is no indication that this is going to happen.
Surely, Windows Store plays a central role in Microsoft's strategy. A high user count not only drives sales in Store, it is also enticing application developers to create products for the Windows platform and here specifically for Windows Mobile.
Microsoft's app ecosystem has been not received the same support by third-party developers that Google's and Apple's ecosystems received, and Microsoft hopes that the all or nothing push to Windows 10, and the increase in users that goes along with it, gets developers to commit to the platform in the same way they commit to the other two major platforms.
Travel site TripAdvisor revealed in a press release on January 27 that its new universal Windows 10 application will be preloaded on "millions of Windows 10 compatible devices".
TripAdvisor®, the world’s largest travel site*, today announced the launch of a new Windows 10 app across desktop, tablet and mobile. The TripAdvisor app for Windows 10 will be available in 47 markets and will be pre-loaded on millions of Windows 10 compatible devices in 2016.
Interestingly enough, Microsoft's own take on the launch of the TripAdvisor universal application for Windows 10 does not make any mention of the application being preloaded in 2016 on machines running the operating system.
No further details about the preloading were offered by TripAdvisor either, which means that it is unclear right now on which devices the app will be preloaded on.
The TripAdvisor deal is not the first that Microsoft made with third-party publishers. Windows 10 shipped with Candy Crush pre-installed for instance, a popular match-3 type of game.
TripAdvisor and Microsoft have a long-standing partnership that dates back to 2013 when Microsoft integrated TripAdvisor's metasearch into Bing's hotel price comparison feature.
There are fundamental differences between preloaded apps and programs, and while some may see the move as adding bloat to systems running Windows 10, apps will only take up storage space but won't delay system start, throw popups on the desktop or run in the background.
For Microsoft, the deal may be less about money, if money was part of the equation at all, and more about getting Windows 10 users to use apps and the store.
Preloaded applications like Candy Crush Soda Saga or TripAdvisor put the focus on apps, and they might entice users to check out Windows Store after all to find other applications of interest.
Windows Store is highlighted prominently on the taskbar and Start Menu after installation.