Horse Sense #133

Why Would Microsoft Offer a Free Windows 10 Upgrade?

Bargain Hunter Bonus!

Intel has announced its sixth generation Core processing family of processors. New hardware built on with these processors will also feature technologies like USB 3.1 and self encrypting solid state drives. Together, these technologies will provide much greater security and performance while lowering operating costs. When corporations do upgrade their hardware, companies will shed millions of PCs from their inventory. There will be a lot of machines available to be retasked, and almost all of them should run Windows 10 or LINUX well.

Why Would Microsoft Offer a Free Windows 10 Upgrade?

Although Microsoft has 1.5 billion users of Windows on PCs, it is not dominant in the tablet and phone markets. It wants to own those markets as well. So, how is it going to get more people to use its products, especially the latest and greatest ones, and how is it going to get people to buy them? It could end support on older operating systems like it did with Windows XP on 4/8/14. Unfortunately for Microsoft that does not mean people will buy and upgrade to Microsoft's newest software. There are millions of machines still running old versions of Microsoft software, including DOS!

The Windows 10 free upgrade offer is the reverse approach as it offers people the "carrot" of a free upgrade. Beta testers liked how Windows 10 looks more like Windows 7. Windows 8 and 8.1 beta testers liked that some of their favorite features, like apps, remain. Even Windows XP and Vista beta testers looked at it and thought, "Wow! This will work on my hardware!"

Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 are still under support and everything except Vista is still being routinely sold. That is a nightmare for support organizations, system builders, corporations, and security experts. Microsoft is probably counting on those who upgrade their personal devices to push their employers to adopt the same version of Windows they are using at home. Companies will see that it is in their best interests to move to Windows 10 as those people are used to Windows 10 and they can shift many of their machines over for "free." There is always a hill one has to climb during a transition. You need to spend money and effort to adopt new technology. Microsoft is trying to make that hill look somewhat smaller. The real kicker, though, is what you get for climbing that hill. How nice is the other side? As many organizations move to Windows 10, Microsoft wants companies to think it will lower their support and other costs, if only because fewer operating systems will need to be supported.

The adoption rate of Windows 8 and 8.1 was poor. Windows 7 is still being sold long after Microsoft had intended to stop selling it as a product. Microsoft does not make much money on existing software licenses. New licenses and paid upgrades generate revenue. Microsoft hopes that their free upgrade offer will encourage a much faster adoption rate of Windows 10. Microsoft will then get revenue via new licenses and paid upgrades and via those who buy systems with Windows 10 pre-installed. When organizations the labor costs of upgrading for "free" to Windows 10, many will choose to buy new Windows 10 PCs instead. A new Windows 10 PC will be without the warts upgrades can bring, negate the considerable labor expense of the upgrade, allow them to implement useful new technologies not available on their older equipment, get machines with long warranties and lower support costs, save energy costs, etcetera. Buying new can be an awfully good choice for many.

Will Windows 10 Succeed?

My prediction is that Windows 10 will be adopted faster than Windows 8 and 8.1, especially in the consumer markets. Within six months, Microsoft will figure out that Windows 10 needs to be a more finished, more secure, and more role based product for business users as most of them will continue to stick with Windows 7. Businesses, especially large ones, should let consumers take their lumps on Windows 10 and wait until changes are made to better fit their needs. [See Horse Sense Articles 127-132 for more perspective.]

Android does not have the security or manageability businesses need. Neither does Apple iOS. So if you are looking at business operating systems going forward, that leaves Microsoft, other proprietary options (a real force when it comes to the cloud), and LINUX. Unfortunately for Microsoft, LINUX will continue to erode their control of the desktop and, especially, the server markets. Already, LINUX based servers outnumber Microsoft based ones, not just on the Internet, but on local area networks. LINUX desktops and other operating systems will likely start appearing on a desktop near you. For example, many public school systems are already making huge buys in smart terminals (especially Chrome desktops), desktop and application virtualization in the cloud, and other non-Microsoft technologies while decreasing their numbers of Microsoft servers and desktops.

Windows 10 will meet with some success, especially with those who use and like Windows 8 and 8.1 in consumer markets. However, unless Microsoft makes some rapid and compelling changes to Windows 10 as I have outlined in this and other articles, Windows 10 will not bring the success Microsoft and its loyal followers desire.

If you are worried about what the future holds for you and how you can best prepare for it, Iron Horse is only a phone call away.

©2015 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse