According to a recent leak, there have been rumours that the next version of Windows, Windows 12, will require a subscription.
References to a subscription model were found in the latest Windows preview builds, suggesting that Microsoft is finally going to force users to pay a monthly subscription to use Windows. These references are almost definitely tied to the newly discovered IoT Enterprise Subscription edition of Windows 11, not the client version of Windows.
It is quite possible that the next version of Windows will have some new capabilities tied to your Microsoft account that require a subscription to utilise. Microsoft is building deeper Windows 365 support into the next version of Windows. Currently, Windows 365 Enterprise customers can now deploy cloud PCs running Windows 11 with a monthly subscription.
Windows 365 is an enterprise service, but it is unlikely that will be the case forever, Microsoft is probably planning to launch Windows 365 for consumers in the future. This will allow anyone to subscribe to a Windows PC in the cloud for all their computing needs.
Based on what is known so far, it is doubtful that Windows 12 will require a subscription. Some features may indeed be subscription based, but not the entire operating system. The local operating system you run at home will probably never require a subscription to use. There is not really a sensible business model that doesn’t alienate most users. Apple doesn’t charge for macOS or iPadOS, and Google doesn’t charge for Chrome OS.
Read more on Windows 12 as details become available here.