A Microsoft 365 subscription for consumers wouldn't work without the Xbox

If Microsoft doesn't include Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass, it's difficult to see how a new subscription service would succeed.

Microsoft is hiring a product manager to lead a new Microsoft 365 subscription service for consumers—and boy, that person will have their work cut out for them.

The job posting, unearthed by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, pretty clearly specifies that Microsoft wants to orchestrate a consumer version of the Microsoft 365 subscription it has put in place for enterprises. The existing Microsoft 365 service for enterprises covers Windows 10, Office 365 and a bundle of enterprise services called EMS, mainly geared at device management.

Subscriptions are Microsoft’s new religion. If Microsoft can get enterprises (and you!) to budget in its services alongside the water bill, car maintenance, and groceries, it wins steady income.

But set aside the fact that an enterprise has dedicated employees whose jobs are to manage hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of PCs and mobile devices, and that that enterprise has budgeted a substantial amount of money for the purpose. While Microsoft may be able to pick and choose among various services to offer a large enterprise, the fact of the matter is that Microsoft currently has very little to offer the consumer PC customer—at all.

Windows 10 still consists of a number of free services—Bing, Cortana, Mail, Edge, and more—built into the “free” copy of Windows 10 that PC makers bundle as part of their PCs. But there aren’t many paid subscriptions beyond that. Microsoft pulled the plug on Groove Music last year. Buying minutes for Skype, or paying for Skype Unlimited, means more for customers with friends and family overseas, rather than United States consumers. Microsoft’s financials have demonstrated that consumers will budget in an Office 365 subscription—but even so, why would they then switch to a presumably more expensive bundle?

Xbox Live Gold Microsoft

Gamers can pay for (or earn points to pay for) a Microsoft Xbox Live subscription, which offers free games each month for the life of the subscription.

The alternative, then, would be to go outside the PC. There’s precedent for that: Microsoft’s Work and Play Bundle, now discontinued, offered a bundle of services worth close to $300 for an asking price of $160: Office 365 Home, Xbox Live Gold, Xbox Music (which later became Groove Music), and Skype Unlimited. Swap out Xbox Music for Microsoft’s new Xbox One game subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, and Microsoft could even maintain its pricing.

Microsoft eventually sweetened up its Work and Play bundle by adding a third-party support contract, offering additional assistance with Windows problems. That would be a bit more analogous to what Microsoft is offering businesses. Maybe tempt customers with a bit more OneDrive storage (2 terabytes, maybe?) and the consumer version of Microsoft 365 looks even better.

The reality, though, is that Microsoft has only a handful of services that consumers will be willing to pay for, and many of those involve the Xbox. The alternative would be to charge an additional fee for apps and services consumers already receive for free: Cortana, Bing, and even (gulp!) some sort of annual Windows subscription. (Microsoft has never suggested that this will happen, and there’s no indication it will.)

Microsoft hasn’t publicly commented on the job posting, and there’s no indication that the company will confirm a Microsoft 365 offering for consumers before it launches. (We’ve asked.) But as it stands, the only successful subscription services that Microsoft can offer consumers are Office 365, Xbox Live Gold, and Xbox Game Pass. If a consumer version of Microsoft 365 doesn’t offer those, it’s difficult to see how it will succeed. 

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?