REDMOND, WA- Tech industry observers expected to hear news of a rumored product name change on Friday but ended up with far more. Tired of battling with copyright thieves and complaints from consumer groups over its pricing practices, Microsoft announced that when Vista (formerly known as Longhorn) hits the streets in early 2006, the company plans to offer its next-generation operating system free of charge.
"In the half decade or so of development on this product, we've had a lot of time to think about our business model and the kind of company we want to be," said Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, sweating erupting from his pores like some sort of hirsute fountain. "For example, we learned from the Open Source community that we really need to reconnect with our users. Letting people use Vista for free is just one step in that direction."
As a publicly traded company, Microsoft is obligated to find a way to recoup the costs of development and marketing. To this end, the company will begin a revolutionary micropayment system by charging a small fee for security patches and bug fixes.
Even though the tiny fees can add up, experts who claim to have to run the numbers say that the rate of $2.50 per patch multiplied over the historical average of two security holes discovered each week adds up to far less than the $119.99 the company charged for Windows XP, great news for budget-conscious, calculator-phobic computer users.