Surely I must have missed something here? But as I read through this article, it clearly pointed out that if Microsoft is to save its own butt, giving away Windows 7 is the best option for the company’s health.

Normally, I would begin my tirade in pointing out that while I have many issues with Windows, it is not hurting Microsoft’s bottom line short of it getting poor PR because of Vista. At the end of the day, Microsoft is a healthy company.

Fast forward up to the article linked above; I do not believe that giving away an ad supported version of Windows is such a bad idea. Just one thing: it would have to be ad supported in such a way as to not annoy. Microsoft adCenter anyone?

Having used both adCenter and AdWords myself, despite adCenter’s many shortcomings, it can be lucrative if you know what you are doing. Now take that same level of skill and provide access to the typical user’s full attention. Forget search content — you have the user at the desktop! Microsoft has always talked about taking on Google in its space, as the other article points out. So this would certainly be the opportunity.

I see other immediate benefits as well. Windows would truly have an edition that is capable of competing with desktop Linux in the free market. Clearly, back on the enterprise level, an ad-supported model would never work. But then again, it sure would be timed about right considering the mess that our financial markets are in right now. People are reluctant to rush out and buy a new OS, but if they could get one for free that would also allow local businesses to advertise to local residents based on a Microsoft database of local users? The value of this would shut down the way we look at local advertising media overnight.

But on the flip side, the privacy concerns would be tremendous — unless the user could elect to be known as a ZIP code rather than a detailed demographic. Surely that would not be so bad. What do you think? Can you say with a straight face that the economy is going to be in a position to support a new release of Windows? While it might work now, I am not convinced that by the time Win 7 rolls out that it will sell all that well. After all, users will have just gotten used to Vista by then.