Microsoft Giving Away Free Wi-Fi to Promote Windows 8

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In San Francisco and New York, Microsoft has teamed with Boingo to offer free wi-fi to promote its new operating system, Windows 8.

Free wi-fi is a valuable commodity in a market where every kilobyte of data transferred costs consumers a pretty penny. Cafes, fast food joints, and even local eateries now try to lure customers with the promise of free wi-fi in exchange for their patronage. More and more businesses are trying their hand at that particular business model, including Microsoft. In New York and San Francisco, Microsoft will be giving away wi-fi connections to try and generate interest for its upcoming operating system release.

The new operating system Windows 8 is due to launch on October 25th. Not only is Microsoft aiming for users to purchase the software, but the company also wants to entice developers to start making apps and add value to the platform. CNET didn’t highlight exactly how this free connection will be creating interest, whether through a landing page once you connect with the wi-fi or some other means, but it might be as simple as signs promoting Windows 8 in areas that the free, Microsoft sponsored wi-fi is available.

The Redmond-based company isn’t going this project alone, however. The wi-fi is actually coming from Boingo, who undoubtedly is getting some free advertising as well. The senior director at Microsoft, John Richards, said, “At Microsoft, we know that amazing apps are being built in New York and San Francisco, and we want to give talented developers the chance to launch their businesses through the Windows Store. We hope our Boingo Wi-Fi sponsorship will introduce the Windows 8 opportunity to app builders in NYC and San Francisco, while providing folks with Wi-Fi connectivity on-the-go.”

Specifically, this wi-fi is available at six different subway stops in Manhattan, in addition to 200 hotzones throughout the city, starting on November 1st. The hotzones are supported by Boingo Wireless, but the subway stop connectivity comes from Transit Wireless, whose business model is specifically to provide a wi-fi solution for subway riders. San Franciscans are getting free wi-fi at Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, UN Plaza, the Financial District, Nob Hill, and other hotzone areas. Unfortunately, the gravy train won’t run forever. Microsoft has said that the free wireless Internet connections will only be available until the end of 2012.

Long-term, Microsoft hopes to have 100,000 Windows apps in the Windows Store within the first ninety days after Windows 8 launches (i.e. before the end of January). Currently there are just over 3,000 Windows 8 apps in the store. Most industry analysts don’t foresee this actually happening, given the underwhelming interest in Windows 8 from consumers and developers. As with all platforms, reviews trickling in from various news sites around the industry highlight some outstanding and beautiful apps, while other apps are sub-par at best.

To read more about increasing Internet connectivity, check out our blog post highlighting Utah’s achievement of being number two in the nation for the number of homes with Internet access.

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