Why Is Windows So Expensive? But Is It?

Windows is the most popular OS worldwide, with around 1.6 billion active users only for Windows 10—four times more than Mac. However, although it’s usually pre-installed on PCs, if you want to get it separately or upgrade it, you have to pay $120 to $140, which is a lot. This makes you wonder why it’s so expensive. 

Windows is expensive since Microsoft pays for many resources, technologies, and OEMs for its development. The platform is so familiar to users that migrating from it incurs higher costs. And since its price is usually bundled in PCs, you don’t expect to pay for it later, thinking it’s expensive.

Pricing Windows has always been controversial, and now it looks more expensive than ever—especially with the introduction of the apparently “free” Windows 10.

Read the rest of the article to understand what factors make the OS expensive.

Why is Windows so expensive?

Four reasons why Windows Server is so expensive

Windows is usually a hidden cost

The first reason for the seemingly high price of Windows is that you think you got it for free when you bought your PC. So, you expect the free service to continue and assume the required fee a lot.

However, that pre-installed operating system contained a fair part of your device’s price: although you didn’t pay for it separately, it was bundled in the purchase price.

It’s not easy to find the exact amount, but some estimate a consumer OS like Windows 7 Home Premium means a $50 to $90 increase in the price of a new PC. 

Yet, when you decide to upgrade your device’s OS, the price may shock you compared to what you pay in the first place.

For instance, an upgrade copy of Windows 7 Home Premium costs about $120 (for those with an eligible upgrade product).

If you don’t have an eligible upgrade product, buying a full version of Windows 7 Home Premium would cost you a whopping $200 (shop around, and you may find it with a few bucks off).

Developing Windows costs a lot

Software developers looking at a computer monitor.

Developing any software package requires many resources, including time, money, and human forces.

According to Statista, in the 2021 fiscal year, Microsoft spent around 20.7 billion dollars on research and development, a new record for the company. 

Microsoft tries to make up for some of these costs by pricing Windows operating systems. 

Microsoft’s share of the desktop computer operating system market in 2021 has been about 70%. This stat shows the popularity of the Windows operating system around the world. 

Most of us have grown up with Windows and are familiar with it. Also, Its functionality and wide range of helpful software have urged many people to use it for their goals.

They’re accustomed to it and don’t wish to use another operating system, even if it’s free—like Linux. 

This point is especially important for businesses as they’re unwilling to spend money and time educating their staff for another platform. 

It’s simply a demand-and-supply game. Windows is popular, and users are willing to pay, so its high price shouldn’t surprise. 

Licensing deals with OEMs

An operating system incorporates various technologies, and many smaller companies may contribute to its development.

The SSL, MPG, JPEG, WiFi protocols, and the ability to read a DVD are some examples of these techs. 

Microsoft must pay to the companies that have developed and own technologies included in its Windows OS. 

Why Is Windows So Expensive?

The latest and now the most popular operating system developed by Microsoft is Windows 10. They first introduced it to the public on July 29, 2015.

At its introduction, Microsoft announced that it’s totally “free” to install or upgrade from older OSs like Windows 7 or 8.1—which aroused great skepticism.

Installing the 10 Home version will cost you about $140. And if you want to upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro for more functionality at your business, you have to pay about $200. Why is it so expensive? 

Windows 10 is so expensive because its development and new updates cost a lot for Microsoft. The inclusion of its price within the purchase cost of a device has made you forget that fact. Besides, it’s popular, ubiquitous, secure, and offers good customer support. 

Windows 10 costs $1.5 Billion to Microsoft

As mentioned, developing new operating systems needs loads of resources, and Windows 10 is no exception.

Microsoft has spent around $1.5 billion on Windows 10, and this expenditure must return to the company’s pocket. 

A part of this cost is covered by the licensing deals between Microsoft and OEMs like Lenovo that pay for using Windows 10 OS on their computers. 

But that’s not enough. The other part of Microsoft’s revenue is on the consumers’ shoulders. How?

As Microsoft has claimed, upgrading from older Windows versions like 7 or 8 to Windows 10 is free, but that’s just the basic version. 

There are three main versions of Windows 10

  • The Home version. It costs about $140, and it’s best suited for the average consumer to do their everyday tasks and gaming.
  • The Pro version. It’s about $200, and a good option for businesses and enterprises. Besides that, it offers additional security and networking features. 
  • The Windows 10 Pro for Workstation. It’s even pricier and costs around $310. It’s similar to 10 Pro but more advanced. It offers faster data processing, more storage, and a feature for finding and repairing faults in the system. 

A student version also comes with specific features for schools, students, and other education centers.

You don’t expect to buy Windows 10

The built-in prices of devices we discussed for the Windows server are also true for Windows 10.

Buying a new PC with a Windows OS includes its cost in the final price. So, you forget the fact that you’ve paid for the OS, and it seems expensive to you when upgrading.

Windows 10 is everywhere

Another factor involved in the high price of Windows 10 is its prevalence. By introducing it as a free OS, Microsoft urged many users to upgrade to this latest version.

Firstly, their costs for R&D would be reduced in the future because their software developers aren’t required to have the older versions in mind while developing new ones. 

And secondly, they can price Windows 10 more since many people, especially businesses and enterprises, use this operating system. They’re willing to pay high prices for more functionality. 

Great customer support

Tech support concept.

Windows 10 has good customer support that can be very helpful—other free operating systems only have communities, not technical support. 

This service is very robust; whenever you face a problem, you can call technical support to assist you in fixing it. Besides, you can refer to Microsoft stores or Microsoft repair centers nearby. 

Such assurance is vital for those who use the Windows 10 platform for working purposes. 

In 2025, Windows 10 support will come to an end

Windows 10 was considered the last version, we all thought. So, instead of continuously updating it with no end, Microsoft announced the release of Windows 11.

However, buying Windows 10, or any of its future versions, means paying for future updates, features, redesigns, patches, and functions. 

Security features 

In the IT world, every person and business can get under the attack of different malware, and today, these onslaughts are more than ever. 

Windows 10 is the most secure operating system of Microsoft for now. They’ve spent a lot on authentication services, encryption, and Defender so that you don’t need to install antivirus apps like in the past. 

But this security isn’t attained free, and they’re consistently spending more money and resources to defend their reputation. 


Windows servers, in general, and Windows 10 are expensive. But these high prices have reasons that we addressed some of them here.

Importantly, every product has costs for the producer, and so are the operating systems.