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Windows 10 isn’t really free, now the hidden costs start to appear

Microsoft has revealed some of the ways it hopes to make money from people who have upgraded to Windows 10 for free.

It is charging users to remove adverts in the card game Solitaire, and to use its new Windows DVD Player app. Days after the operating system launched on 29 July, people playing Solitaire started complaining about the fee they had to pay to block adverts – some of which are 30-second, full-screen videos.

Microsoft-Windows-Solitaire-not-free Windows 10 isn't really free, now the hidden costs start to appear

The advert-free Premium version of the game costs $1.49 a month or $9.99 a year (around £6.44), and contains bonus features such as extra coins, which is the currency won in the game. It is the same fee you had to pay to play Solitaire on Windows 8, but the game wasn’t installed by default on that operating system – you had to download it from the Windows Store. Many so-called ‘freemium’ games are free when you start playing them, but ask you to pay to unlock elements such as extra levels and more features.

What’s upset many people is the appearance of adverts in a native application, which are programs and tools built into an operating system. However Microsoft would argue that the Windows 10 edition of Solitaire represents value for money because it comes in several designs, ranks players in leaderboards and contains more versions of the game than before.

Disappointed players expressed their dismay on Twitter. One Windows user called Will O’Neill wrote: “Windows Solitaire: It isn’t even free to be alone now”. Another, Nick Reineke, said: “I can officially say I’ve made some mistakes in life when I start paying a monthly fee to play Microsoft’s Solitaire game in Windows 10”.

Despite the negative reaction, it seems unlikely that Microsoft will change its mind. The company said in a statement: “The Microsoft Solitaire Collection game experience and Premium Upgrade features such as Double Coins for Daily Challenges, and removal of advertisements, is identical to the Windows 8 version that has been available for purchase for years”.


Another cost that has angered users is the £11.59 Microsoft is charging for its Windows DVD Player app. The app is “free for a limited time” to people upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 Ultimate, Professional and Home Premium. It’s also temporarily free for those upgrading from Windows 8.1 who bought the Media Centre app on that operating system.

Microsoft doesn’t specify how long the app will be free, stating that the offer “will end at or before the free Windows 10 upgrade offer”. That means it will end at any time between now and 28 July 2016. Once the free offer is over, Microsoft will charge £11.59 to install it from the Windows Store (See screenshot below).

Windows-DVD-Player-is-not-free Windows 10 isn't really free, now the hidden costs start to appear

The Windows DVD Player costs £11.59 in Windows 10

Microsoft didn’t include DVD-playback capabilities when Windows 8 launched, citing rising manufacturing and licensing costs. Windows 10 doesn’t come with Windows Media Player, meaning the ability to play DVDs no longer comes as standard. Many people reluctant to pay told us that they’ll use free software, such as VLC Media Player. Even those who have paid for the app are angry, as indicated by several scathing reviews on the Windows Store. A Windows 10 user called ‘Ray’ wrote: “Abysmal.

Tried two different Region 2 DVDs and none will play. All that happens is the DVD is recognised then the Store opens trying to get me to buy something else to play it with. Avoid until Microsoft sort the bugs”. Another frustrated user, ‘Colin’, complained that the app “does not work – same as a lot of things on Windows 10. Going back to windows 8.1”. At the time of press, all four reviewers who have rated the app have awarded it just one star out of five.

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