Future Visions is an anthology of science fiction short stories commissioned by Microsoft and available for free.
Future Visions features contributions from: Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire, Robert J. Sawyer and a short graphic novel by Blue Delliquanti and Michele Rosenthal, plus original illustrations by Joey Camacho.
You can get it here:
The notion of a wealthy company paying artists to produce works for “free” puts me in mind of classical artists who produced works on commission for nobility or the church, or who worked for a patron. Going forward, commissions might be a way digitally vulnerable artists could continue to make a living. Products produced by photographers, film makers, writers and musicians and other similar creatives are too easily stolen and distributed, producing no income for the artists. A commission model, on the other hand, would pay them up front. The company or individual would not care if the product was distributed free, because their intent is to reach as wide an audience as possible for publicity and good will.
We see this already with concerts partially sponsored by various producers, and athletics, particularly in golf and racing. I also think there’s a hint of it in miniature wargaming, where figure manufacturers are commissioning rules sets and in many cases giving away the digital versions.