Microsoft is still attempting to create an air of mystery and suspense around the press event tomorrow at which it is expected to unveil the next-generation Windows 9 OS, but its executives continue to undermine those efforts with the latest being Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Dianotoro's confirmation of Windows 9's cost: free.

Previously known as Windows Threshold, Windows 9 - the name having been confirmed then denied by Microsoft France president Alain Crozier - the next-generation Windows release is expected to herald a shift by the company from its irregular and multi-year launch cycle into a more agile yearly update schedule. This, observant readers may note, echoes those of competitor Apple, which releases versions of its OS X operating system annually at either very reasonable prices or more recently completely free of charge - largesse made possible by limiting its use, officially at least, to high-profit Apple-manufactured hardware only.

For Microsoft, that's not an option: unlike OS X, Windows is designed to run on almost any modern desktop, laptop or server, and is sold both for OEM preinstallation and at retail for end-users to stick on their existing computers. As a result, Microsoft has traditionally charged a considerable fee for its operating systems - but with Windows 9 that, it is claimed, will change.

The launch of Windows 8 brought with it a time-limited upgrade offer costing as little as £25; its follow-up, Windows 8.1, was made available free to all Windows 8 users but represented little more than Windows 8 Service Pack 1. Windows 9, by contrast, promises to be a considerable upgrade - but will not cost Windows 8(.1) users a penny to upgrade. Confirming rumours at a local event covered by Detik, Microsoft Indonesia president Andreas Diantoro stated outright that Windows 9 will be made available free of charge. More telling is the method of distribution: Diantoro's comments suggested that Windows 9 will be made available as a Windows Update download for automatic installation on all Windows 8(.1) devices - just like Windows 8.1 was made available for Windows 8 users.

Microsoft has yet to issue a statement clarifying Diantoro's comments, but with its Windows 9-related press conference due to take place late tomorrow it may simply choose to remain quiet until everything can be laid on the table in a formal manner.
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