If you’re one of those who was left frustrated with Windows 8, today’s your lucky day. An announcement from Microsoft introduces the new Windows 10. And better yet, it’s free.
‘We want to move people from needing Windows to loving Windows.’ So said Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, at an event yesterday where Windows 10 was formally introduced to the world. Well, there’s one thing people will definitely love – the price.
Windows 10 is to be offered as a free upgrade to any customers currently running Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1, provided they install the upgrade in the first year after launch.
The move to offering its signature operating system free of charge feels long overdue, and some, myself included, would consider it a necessary apology gesture to those of us who endured the lamentable Windows 8 in the first place.
Free, that’s the magic number
No more, no less, that’s what consumers have been calling for. When we ran a poll here on Which? Conversation to ask your opinion on Windows 10, of 2,000 respondents, an overwhelming 92% felt Windows 10 should be free for Windows 8 users. A further 6% felt it should be offered at a discount.
Microsoft has gone one better by broadening the free offer to the huge Windows 7 user base. And that makes it a more tantalising proposition for millions of business owners the world over, and perhaps even Chris S who told us this on the last Convo:
‘Bought a new laptop with Win 8 when our old one died. It was so bad we put it in a cupboard and bought a Mac! Might dig out the laptop to try Win 10 if they give a free upgrade.’
A free upgrade is nothing all that novel in the modern tech landscape – Apple offers Mac users free upgrades to the latest version of OS X all the time, while iPad or iPhone users are offered a new version of iOS for free every year. Terfar pointed this out, and from the sound of things, it seems his fears aren’t that necessary:
‘Apple and Android get free updates. I think that Microsoft may have to join the bandwagon with free updates, but I fear that we may then only get a basic OS without all the standard features.’
Microsoft is finding its traditional revenue model increasingly turned on its head. It simply isn’t making much money out of selling operating systems these days. A free OS is a gateway to upselling further products, apps and services that may give Microsoft a profitable lifeline.
So Windows 10 is to be free – well that’s alright, now, but will it stay that way? I have some reservations over the fact it’s been stated as only being free for the first year after launch. It’s possible anyone dragging their feet to upgrade could end up still paying out for the operating system later down the line.
And who’d blame you for holding back on upgrading? When Windows 8 first debuted, it was met with dismay as Microsoft abandoned such staples as the Start menu, and shoe-horned in a tablet-style app experience into an operating system that was still predominantly used by laptop and desktop owners. Windows 8.1 fixed a number of gripes, but we had to wait the better part of a year for these to come along.
Microsoft hasn’t committed to a pricing plan for Windows 10 further down the line. It’s entirely plausible that it could yet remain free, though this is unconfirmed. For now, I’ll happily take the news of the free upgrade as a great, common-sense response from Microsoft to evident dissatisfaction from its core customers and a necessary shift in a changing market place.
So will you update to Windows 10 as soon as it’s out? Or has your loyalty already shifted to another brand? And do you think it’s right that operating systems are now being given away for free?