Windows 11: Microsoft wants your credit card data

Windows[German]Is Microsoft eyeing the credit card data of its Windows 11 users in order to identify its users more precisely in the future and possibly charge them with additional fees? The information has been circulating on the Internet for hours: Microsoft has introduced a field for entering credit card data in the new Windows 11 Insider Preview build 22567. This is supposed to allow users to pay for apps and be notified about subscriptions or expiring credit card payments.


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Yesterday I received two messages on the subject. There was an email and this comment here on the GErman blog. The mail outlined the whole thing well:

Hi Günter,

just came across a disturbing message: after Microsoft force an online account, the Insider Preview of Windows 11 now requires credit card information. 

However, the message does not clearly communicate whether this information is mandatory for installation. Do you know more about this?

That would be a problem for me: I don't have a credit card and will definitely not get one.

The source linked in the comment is Fudzilla, which addressed the topic that has now appeared in the Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22567. 

What happened?

As of March 2, 2022, Microsoft has released Windows 11 Insider Preview build 22567 – the announcement can be found on the Windows blog. There is an interesting passage in the announcement:

This build includes a couple of new features including enabling Windows Update to leverage renewable energy, improvement to Microsoft 365 subscription management in Settings, phone linking in device setup (OOBE), and a new security feature called Smart App Control.

which is probably making waves. In the Microsoft account settings, there is now a new field where a credit card number can be entered for payments. This page states that users can pay for a Microsoft 365 subscription directly in Windows. Windows will also notify users when their payment information needs to be updated. In addition, Microsoft has updated the subscription management interface with more subscription information, some of which highlights the "free benefits" that come with a Microsoft account.

But all the credit card details are stored/managed in a subscription dashboard associated with the Microsoft account on the web, but which can be accessed from the account's settings page. Has of course the component that with it the Windows user can be identified by name, and through the Microsoft account it becomes traceable.


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The way is the goal

I don't see a credit card requirement to install Windows 11 yet. But it's becoming apparent where Microsoft is headed. People are supposed to enter their credit card information to pay for their subscriptions – that little word Microsoft 365 subscription is the point. Windows 11 will then probably remain free – but the Office apps in that product will have to be subscribed to annually. And there it is – from Microsoft's point of view – not uncouth to have the payment data right away and to inform about the expiration.

Microsoft wants to turn Windows 11 into a "shopping experience world" where the user only has to click on a "want" button and the credit card is charged. Sure, Microsoft has to make money, too, but a lot of Windows 11 comes down to a machine of coercion – at least for my taste.

Something from the past …

And now I'll make a borrowing "from the past". On March 3, 2018, I had the German blog post Windows 10 künftig als Cashcow? There I had picked up on the point that Microsoft had made a statement to the US Securities and Exchange Commission about future Windows revenue:

[W]e anticipate that Windows 10 will enable new post-license monetization opportunities beyond initial license revenues.

I wrote at the time that this translates to the following: [W]e anticipate that Windows 10 will enable new post-license monetization opportunities beyond initial license revenues. Of course, I shamelessly lied – nothing is expected to happen with Windows 10, because it will die in 2025. But hey, to my credit, I have to say: At that time, neither me nor Microsoft knew anything about Windows 11.

And so it will be exciting to see how the monetization will continue. Because I don't see a Microsoft 365 in private hands yet. In forms, however, entering credit card data makes no sense at all – there are volume licenses and the subscriptions are handled centrally through purchasing. There was already a heated discussion regarding this and I had what a few years ago in the blog – but can no longer find the post.

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