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‘Free’ Windows 10 Has High Cost To Windows 7 And Windows 8 Users

13 May

windows_product_family_9-30-event-741x416-580-90Are you tempted by Windows 10? On paper you should be: it combines the best of Windows 8 with a desktop similar to Windows 7, it works across PCs, phones and tablets and – best of all – it will be free. Actually scrap that last part…

Here is the official line: Windows 10 will be a free upgrade to existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade within a year of its release.

Furthermore Microsoft MSFT +0.77% states “once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time – for no additional charge.”

Yes there are some exclusions – notably Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise and Windows RT/RT 8.1 – but for the everyday user this sounds almost too good to be true.

Read more – Why Microsoft Announced Windows 10 Is ‘The Last Version Of Windows’

And the problem is: it just might be. Here’s three reasons why:

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Reason #1: Windows By Another Name

Windows 10 may not be out yet, but Microsoft has already confirmed the name of its successor: ‘Windows’.

Windows 10 works across every device – image credit Microsoft
Windows 10 works across every device – image credit Microsoft

Yes, Windows 10 will be the last numbered version of the OS and going forward it will simply become a ‘Windows’ subscription service. This upsets those who don’t like the idea of a subscription service, but the biggest concern is this: while Windows 10 will seamlessly upgrade to ‘Windows’ – this is a new beginning. Your OS would evolve into a new product for which you have to pay.
When would this happen? Microsoft hasn’t put a date on it, but two major Windows 10 updates dubbed ‘Redstone’ (a Minecraft reference) have already been flagged for release in mid and late 2016 respectively.
Could this be ‘Windows’? Right now we don’t know, but with two years between Windows Vista (2007) and Windows 7 (2009), three years to Windows 8 (2012) and three years to Windows 10 (2015) you may be getting pushed to a paid subscription ‘Windows’ in 2-3 years.

Read more – Microsoft Windows 10 Leak Reveals New Offensive Emojis

Reason #2: Nagware

Of course there is a simple answer to any ‘Windows’ upgrade for Windows 10: don’t upgrade.

After all no matter how many times Microsoft may ask you to install ‘Windows’ when it arrives, that doesn’t mean you have to and you can keep using your free version of Windows 10. Then again this looks like it won’t be a pleasurable experience.

The hint comes from the Microsoft patch ‘KB3035583’. Microsoft officially describes it as: “This update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications when new updates are available to the user”

But the reality is KB3035583 is nagware which creates four folders on Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices designed to push Windows 10 adverts both as the release approaches and after release urging users to upgrade.

How important is this strategy to Microsoft? Clearly very. The company recently upgraded the status of KB3035583 to being an ‘Important’ update for both Windows 7 and Windows 8 which means it will install automatically. There seems no reason why Windows 10 users won’t receive similar treatment when ‘Windows’ becomes available.

As for Reason #3, it may be the most costly of them all…

In Defence of Microsoft: There’s No Decent Alternative

At this point I suspect there are a great many of you who hate this idea. That’s not surprising. There remains a powerful appeal to the sense of ownership. DVDs and CDs versus Netflix NFLX -0.28% and Spotify.

But this is at odds with where software development is heading. In a rapidly moving world it is no longer good enough to work on a major operating system release every 3 to 5 years, push it as a big upgrade which causes upheaval to install and issue Service Packs once a year. The future is evolutionary, ongoing updates where the monetary value cannot be equated to a one-off payment.

In short the last thing Microsoft wants is another Windows XP situation where a single payment at its launch in 2001 resulted in 13 years of free development and tech support followed by customer scorn when it eventually called time. Endless warranties do not make for a practical business model – especially for software which has been pirated time and time again.

Windows10_Phone_Laptop-3C

Of course there is an alternative for angry customers: jump ship to any one of hundreds of open source platforms and I’m sure many will (even though a lot also charge for ongoing support, rather than the software itself).

Read more – Microsoft Surface 3 Vs Surface Pro 3: What’s The Difference?

Will It Work?

All of which begs a bigger question: has Microsoft got this new Windows strategy right? Personally I think it has, but it comes with the very large caveat of how often and how much users are charged.
I also think it won’t be possible for customers to pressurise Microsoft to go back. Last month Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform, admitted the future of Windows could be as open source software. Which ultimately means Microsoft has given more consideration to giving Windows away in future than it has to continuing the existing model.

“Like I said, it’s a new Microsoft” explained Russinovich when pushed on the company’s increasingly clear desire to split from its past.

Like it or not, I think we’re all starting to get that message…

Read more – Microsoft Is The New Google, Google Is The Old Microsoft

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