Microsoft may have agreed to offer Windows 10 operating system upgrades to millions of Indian PC users at "less than a quarter of the current price."
The Indian government had previously urged Microsoft to offer cost-effective Windows 10 upgrades to Indian PC users to protect them from future ransomware attacks.
India's cyber security chief Gulshan Rai has confirmed to Reuters that Microsoft has "in principle agreed" to the Indian government's request to offer Windows 10 upgrades to around 50 million Indian PC users. These upgrades will be offered at a fraction of current prices and will be a one-time deal for Indian PC users.
The Indian government contacted Microsoft soon after WannaCry ransomware attacks took place in May. The government also took some urgent steps to push out OS upgrades to government-owned systems following the attacks, and this helped in minimising the effects of the 'NotPetya' ransomware attacks which took place in the last week of June.
It is estimated that 96 percent of 57 million PCs in India run the Windows operating system and a majority of these run legacy versions like Windows XP and Windows 7. Upgrading all of these at a fraction of existing prices may cost Microsoft billions of rupees.
"It will be a one-time upgrade offer to Windows 10 and it will be a discounted price for the entire country," said Gulshan Rai, adding that the final rate could be "less than a quarter of the current price." The government believes that 'new OS versions have different architecture, much-improved architecture and much more resiliency' and that it wants to 'incentivise the common man to upgrade their systems'.
In India, Microsoft's Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro operating systems are presently priced at Rs 7,999 (£96.41) and Rs 14,999 (£180.78) respectively. However, the uptake of the new versions is quite low as most low-income consumers and middle-level shop owners prefer to use their existing computers with older versions of Windows rather than spending huge sums on OS upgrades. The huge discounts offered by Microsoft may help change their mindset in the near future.
"The quantum of the price cut, we expect some detail on in a couple of days," Rai added. Microsoft has so far declined to comment on the subject.