Windows 10: Microsoft’s New View

on July 22, 2015

Window 10 announcementIn 1995, Microsoft introduced its first really popular operating service, Windows 95, which was so attractive customers stood in store lines to buy it when it became available at midnight, and was a bargain when retailers offered it for $210, or $110 for an upgrade from something such as Windows 3.11. There was no built-in support for the internet by dial-up or anything else and a package of added features put another $50 on the cost.

If you wanted new Windows, you paid for it. It might be a good version—Widows 98 Second Edition or Windows 7—or bad—Windows ME or 8—but when you went for retail, an enterprise tool, or the OS on a new computer, it would cost.

There’s been a lot of change lately, especially since Satya Nadella took over as CEO. Users with Windows 7 were able to upgrade to 8.1 for no charge (although there’s no particular reason most would want to). Office, the most important Windows software, once had to be purchased for each PC individually, is now available in a five PC system for $100 a year, is automatically updated, and serves both Windows and Macs (additional versions cover iPhones, Android, and Windows Phones without charge). A terabyte of cloud storage for five users on OneDrive and 60 minutes of Skype are thrown in.

The official announcement of Windows 10, scheduled for July 29, is very different from what Microsoft customers are used to. Most recently, if you wanted to upgrade from Windows 7 to 8.1, you would pay $120. The new announcement to customers:

*Windows Offer Details

Yes, free! This upgrade offer is for a full version of Windows 10, not a trial. 3GB download required; standard data rates apply. To take advantage of this free offer, you must upgrade to Windows 10 within one year of availability. Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.

And unlike the legal standard boilerplate, you get:

Our lawyers made us say this:

Windows 10 Upgrade Offer is valid for qualified Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices, including devices you already own. Some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device and market. The availability of Windows 10 upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 devices may vary by OEM, mobile operator or carrier. Devices must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled. Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update required. Some editions are excluded: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1. Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer. To check for compatibility and other important installation information, visit your device manufacturer’s website and the Windows 10 Specifications page. Additional requirements may apply over time for updates. Security and features are kept automatically up-to-date which is always enabled.

Microsoft is doing its best to follow Apple’s style to use its stores for the new software rush. Events featuring the new Windows will be featured at some top Microsoft stores, along with lots of parties, doubtless paid for, at least in part, by Microsoft. Stores will have Answer Desks designed to help customers install Windows 10 on existing PCs or to set up new systems. Microsoft has also begun a series of TV ads promoting the launch.

Of course, there’s a big question left at the bottom of the issue: Will Windows 10 bring back the Microsoft-based PC, where there has been movement both from Windows to Mac and away from PCs altogether. There almost certainly has to be some real improvement. Those who have been working on Windows 7 or far worse Windows 8.1s have to be long ready for replacement.

Apple has definitely shown there is a valid business in selling Macs and the forthcoming release of El Capitan for OS X is bound to boost PC sales even though it will fit reasonably well in most existing Macs. One huge test for Microsoft will be just how good the PC makers will be at doing a better job selling Windows 10 than they, including Microsoft itself, did with Windows 8 and 8.1. Unless Windows 10 really comes through, Microsoft will just continue to lose after the growth of Macs and the movement away from PCs.