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Windows 8 and its much needed apology

Windows 8 logo

An apology, at the very least – that’s what I expect from Microsoft. Because that’s what it owes its customers for the misery that was Windows 8, which will be remembered as a failure ever more.

Windows 8 revealed a company struggling to keep up with these touchscreen times. Clearly, heads have rolled at Microsoft HQ, and the newly unveiled Windows 10 is its effort to win back the trust of its customers.

Windows 10, though, not 9? Perhaps the marketing gurus are putting some distance between the new effort, which will be released next year, and the woefully received Windows 8. But as for an apology – perhaps even this isn’t enough.

Free upgrade to Windows 10

If Microsoft wants to truly earn the love of its customers, it could do a lot worse than to make Windows 10 a free upgrade for anyone who suffered through 8. Not discounted. Free. This is something that Apple has managed to do with all of its recent OS X updates, for example.

Let Microsoft pay the cost for its mistakes with Windows 8 – customers shouldn’t have to

What was you experience with Windows 8? Were you happy with Microsoft’s OS or has it pushed you away to other operating systems?

Should Microsoft give Windows 8 owners a free upgrade to Windows 10?

Yes (92%, 1,831 Votes)

At least a discount (6%, 125 Votes)

Don't know (1%, 23 Votes)

No (1%, 21 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,000

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Comments
Old IT says:
29 November 2014

Windows 8 appeared to have been designed and pilot tested by a bunch of teenagers. I kept my Windows 8 machine one year. It was an expensive mistake but I was glad to be rid of it. Have been running a Toshiba Chromebook ever since. Instant results, very easy to use. Perfect.

Carole says:
29 November 2014

I bought a new laptop when I heard that Windows Vista would no longer be supported. I took the plunge as my old laptop was 6 years old. Buying a laptop with Windows 8 has been a nightmare I have had it for 18 months and I still dislike it with a passion. I have gone back to using my old laptop until the plug has been pulled on Vista. I deeply regret not buying a Mac laptop. Why don’t these developers consider the needs of the silver surfers many are computer savvy but I would think the the majority just want a system that is easy to understand.
I fully support your views on a free upgrade to Windows 10. Trying to make sense of Windows 8 has been so frustrating, I am not too bad with computers but this experience has really made me question whether I should bother with this company in the future.

Pat Davies says:
29 November 2014

When I bought a new desktop I was forced to have Windows 8.1 which was dreadful. Fortunately I was able to take my new computer back and demand a refund as it was faulty. I managed to get a new computer with Windows 7. Although I found it to be a leap from Windows XP at least I was able to use it but I am still struggling to find how to do more advanced operations which I was at ease with on XP (where with Windows 8.1 I did not know where to start no pun intended)

Octogenarian says:
29 November 2014

3 years ago when I was 80 I changed to Apple! Wish I’d done it years ago…..thought I was too old…..was not a problem and ‘it works’.

I agree with most comments but particularly NFH first post 24/11 regarding Apps taking over the whole screen needing to send mouse groping in top corner to find ‘Charmless Bar’ to return to desk top. I also use ‘Classic Shell’ for start, big improvement, makes 8 nearly usable. Can’t realistically change to a Mac to expensive and my main use is of an old CAD program written for XP but fortunately still working perfectly on 8.1
Needed another computer to run a CNC machine so bought a very second hand one running XP, no need to connect to ‘net so no risk.
We definitely deserve 10 to be free!
PWW. Annoyed Silver Surfer.

Windows 8 absolute nightmare and it came on my brand new HP computer.Its a mumble jumble mess…….ive nearly thrown it out the window on several occasions.
Free upgrade would make up or i’m going to have to suffer this for the next 7 years !!!

You can update it to Windows 8.1 – that does go a little way towards eliminating many of the most hideous of changes.

You can also download the free Classic Shell from http://www.classicshell.net/ which makes it much more like Windows 7.

Janet Sleeman says:
29 November 2014

I have experienced windows vista and windows 8. I had no real problems with vista and have now upgraded to Windows 7 on my laptop. It works so well that I use it instead of my main PC with windows 8. Windows 8 is a complete disaster and nightmare. I am quite competent with computers, but do not feel in control of my computer, A simple process like searching for a file is impossible. Why did I buy it???

If your desktop came with Windows 8 Pro, the licence agreement permits you to downgrade to Windows 7 Pro.

If your laptop came with a Windows 7 Pro disk, you are permitted to install it onto your Windows 8 PC and use the same product key which should be on the bottom of the laptop.

If the Laptop didn’t come with a Windows 7 Pro disk, you’ll have to source Windows 7 Pro and product key from somewhere else. You can find full details on How To at WindowsGeeks.com.

maxwild says:
30 November 2014

“A simple process like searching for a file is impossible”
Have a look at this link – http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows-8/search-apps-files-settings
Or just start typing on your Metro screen.

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]

Max Wild says:
30 November 2014

“A simple process like searching for a file is impossible.”

This is complete nonsense but rather in tune with much of the other muddle headed, conspiracy theory riddled content of this thread.

Luckily most find Windows 8.1 adequate and just use it – others seem to find their way to discussion here to bleat about the merits of expensive (if time is money) Linux or very expensive Apple.

James A. says:
30 November 2014

I have used ubuntu Linux for many years it is upgraded regularly and I would never go back to
microsoft . Linux is easy to use, it is 99% compatable with windows and it is very rarely hacked.
You should try it and stop complaining about microsoft’s short comings.

Well said James. I couldn’t agree more. I also have been an Ubuntu user for many years.
The only trouble I have is finding a dealer which will sell a machine without Windows, and one which will disclose how much the Windows adds to the price!

Yep, same here. When MS ceased XP support, I replaced it with Lubuntu on my aging laptop.

If anyone’s got an old machine that’s creaking under a bloated modern OS, it’s worth trying Lubuntu for free.

It’s just like the classic Windows desktop, free and being a lightweight version of Ubuntu Linux, it’s very fast even on my poor old box.

And no anti-virus nonsense.

Did I mention ‘free’?

@bib1, “And no anti-virus nonsense.” Don’t be fooled into thinking there are no viruses / malware for linux, there are. They’re just not anywhere near common as Microsoft ones.

What everyone is forgetting is that Windows 8.x was designed as a MARKETING exercise, not as a technological marvel.

MS has been suffering effective competition recently and without coming up with ‘The Next Best Thing’, it had to go for smoke and mirrors. MS decided what we would have to use and that was that! After all, this strategy had worked many times before.

The concept was fine, one OS for all devices. However both the hardware and software implementation was awful and monopolistic and they got their fingers very badly burnt.

It used to be that an MS upgrade was an automatic thing. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. That confidence has been shaken and now people are even questioning the regular updates that are sent out, let alone the next software version.

MS has fallen off its perch. It’s not quite in decline, but it is moving closer to the edge. A parallel is IBM, some 25+ years ago. It has taken all this time for them to re-establish themselves as a player after missing the PC bandwagon.

The problem with IBM, was that they had some fixed internal business processes that took a generation to change. MS is in exactly the same position. It’s trying to gain purchase on the mire of its own success, refusing to accept that conditions have changed.

Windows 10 for free? A Win 8.x apology? Not a chance.

If it is offered without charge, it might just be a sign that seismic shock waves have passed through the MS boardroom. As to the likelihood of that happening, I have one thing to say:

“Oink, Oink, Zoom!”

Ian

I agree with much of what you say about MS. For far too long, marketing has trumped engineering, but I believe that they may finally be seeing the light.

The concept of one OS for all devices so that users can move between phone, tablet/laptop and desktop and feel almost instantly at home is a great concept. I can see it working. BUT, someone forgot that the user interface for each device and screen real estate is quite different between the devices. Touch screens on phones and tablets are fantastic; they may even be OK as an addition to a laptop, but on a desktop? Who wants to poke the desktop screen? So the home screen on one device cannot be identical to a different device. That’s where MS lost it and we ended up with big, blocky baby interface on Windows 8 desktop.

Now that the man at the top has changed, I feel (and hope) that they will change. They need to understand that users don’t want massive changes to the user interface with a new release of OS (or apps like Office). Many changes to desktop Windows don’t seem to have achieved much more than totally confuse the user who for 10 or 20 years has familiarised and learnt their way around Windows. I personally hated the change from drop down menus to Ribbon menus: I still don’t see that they have made the slightest improvement in usability or productivity – especially in the workplace. I could easily go back to Windows XP and Office 2003 (or 2000) and be just as productive. So that’s billions paid out by businesses and users to any measurable advantage. All the little extra features introduced since then could easily have be integrated without the need to make any changes to the old interfaces. And if you’re a heavy keyboard user, colour blobs on screen serve no purpose.

I really hope the new man at the top knows how to tame his marketing department and stops changes for change sake.

‘terfar’ I’m not so sure things will change.

The last real innovation MS made was Windows 95 and Office 95. Ever since, in order to maintain a steady income stream, minor tweaks have been made. These being sufficiently awkward to ‘force’ users to upgrade – anyone remember the fun and games going from Office 97 to Office 2003.

Windows has really not changed at all. Even Win 8.x was ‘window dressing’ (pardon the pun).

MS success has been made on the back of a virtual monopoly. Now, ‘virtual’ is causing them real pain. There are genuine alternatives to MS and they aren’t producing the products to cope, nor are they yet nimble enough to cope with rivals like Google.

Take Office 365. It’s nothing special. All the ‘new’ features are things you can do (better?) using other products and you really have to link it to the monster that is SharePoint 2013 (see, a ‘forced’ upgrade).

Radical internal change is very difficult, expensive and often affects share price and so dividends and bonuses. I believe MS give their workers lots of these shares. A fantastic motivator when the company is doing well, but the reverse is also true. Ask an IT Guru where they would most like to work. The answer will be Google or Oracle or Apple, not MS.

As for taming the marketing department, MS is PRIMARILY a marketing company. It being a legal company second and development is a poor third (A lot of their recent products have been bought from other firms).

Did anyone see their Internet Explorer 10 TV ads? They were fantastic. Genuinely entertaining. The Surface tablet offerings were also well done – shame about the device.

I make my living using MS products and I am genuinely concerned that they are going to get worse before (if ?) they get better.

Ian wrote: ‘…anyone remember the fun and games going from Office 97 to Office 2003.’

I believe this was a big step forward and many found the transition difficult simply because of the change.

Actually, it wasn’t just the change. IT change is all too frequent and we learn to live with it. It was because MS changed some internal structures to make 97 just a little bit incompatible with later versions. They did exactly the same with 2007 and 2010.

Why, because 97 and 2007 were perfectly reasonable products and no-one was upgrading. I believe MS has actually apologised for the problems upgrading from ’97, but not in a way that can be used as the basis for a law suit of course.

I can’t disagree there, Ian. The incompatibility of different versions of Microsoft software has caused me a great deal of grief, especially since I have worked with both the PC and Mac versions over the years. The arrogance of Microsoft reached a peak with Internet Explorer 6, which ignored international standards.

‘wavechange’, it sounds like we have both had similar experiences.

I remember once trying to convert a few Excel 5.0 spreadsheets to Excel 95 format.

All the code worked and had the correct syntax, but the spreadsheets stopped working. It took me a week of testing to discover that while one bit of code was perfectly correct, MS had subtly changed the way the commands operated.

How I laughed.

Try as I might, I could never find any reference to that change in the literature.

AFAIR was not there a floating point error on Excel. Yes there was!!

http://pogue.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/a-big-excel-boo-boo/

I’ve met the incompatibility problems, Ian, but I have never investigated them as you have.

I don’t have a problem with changes in user interface as long as I can see a benefit rather than change for the sake of change, but I realise that others struggle. Hence it’s inevitable that many are unhappy with a new version of Windows, even if they go on to champion it a few years later when faced with a newer version. I am open minded about Office 365, but would like to see it better established before I take the plunge.

Max Wild says:
1 December 2014

“I could easily go back to Windows XP and Office 2003 (or 2000)”
I think I understand that you mean that your requirement of your PC has not developed in over 10 years. That is slightly surprising but I am sure that it is true for some people.
My feeling is that Terfar is looking down the wrong end of the telescope.
Microsoft have billions of customers – each one with slightly different needs. They also have to address us reviewers who are always eager to add our two penny worth!
MS with Windows 8 and Phone 8 have introduced a system that is philosophically different from the era of XP. They see, as many who add to this thread fail to see, that the world has now moved to cloud computing with the demand for documents and data to be portable.
The naysayers in this thread really do need to stop and think if their declared requirement is exactly what XP delivered.
If it is then fine but if they value the extra security and convenience of the developments in the last 12 years then they should temper their strident complaints with some cool reflection.
Finally, just think of the criticism that would be found in these and other threads if MS still offered XP as “the product” with no touch screen, multi platform and cloud collaborative facility. Actually it doesn’t bear thinking about!!

Max Wild says:
1 December 2014

There are times when I might be seen as totally pro MS. This is not entirely true!
I was brought up on Lotus products and know that the “info box” that Lotus developed as their solution to the delivery of creation options for documents etc in SmartSuite was and, vestigally, is a more elegant solution compared to the MS ribbons.
I suppose IBM own the patent so we are stuck with ribbons in Office etc!!

Max – I started in the days of Lotus and Wordperfect for work [ Atari for home fun] and then moved to the really excellent Quattro Pro so I think I am quite well versed in the development of computers and programs.

Seven was perfectly acceptable for pretty much everything you want to do on a PC or laptop. A collection of idiots then unleashed 8 splendidly designed for touch screen tablets etc., and made it the only option. How many businesses decided to junk 7 in favour of 8 – I am sure it would be incredibly hard to find any other than the smallest business.

Firstly the concept of people gagging to keep information in the cloud is bogus:.
Anyone who has an interest in preserving any privacy is fully alive to the fact that the information is not secure. You may think snooped by just the NSA but can you be sure?.
Would you like to list the number of people and firms that have been locked out from accessing data since the beginning of the cloud.?
The requirement you are able to afford a live link, and that keeping on cloud is always going to be a cheap option.

If people want to know more about what goes on in computer land and reports on cloud outages the first port of call is The Register. [theregister.co.uk]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Register

There are other sites which send me daily emails also including :
computer business review [CBRonline.com]
zdnet tech
windows secrets
PC Pro Newsletter
PC Pro Cloud Newsletter

You may find it interesting today to dip into the various sites just to see what is talked about – and then forget about them until such time as it is more relevant to what you are doing. : )

In my working life, I was an IT engineer. I specialised in Desktops hardware and support for Windows and Office. I became a Microsoft Office MVP specialising in Word in 1994 until I retired this year. I developed and supported end users, providing them with the tools they need for their particular tasks.

Under the bonnet, Windows and Office have slowly evolved and improved tremendously. But the changes in the User interfaces have achieved nothing.

Now I’m retired, I mainly use Word, Excel, Photoshop and Lightroom plus the usual Email, web (I prefer Chrome browser) and a little social media (Facebook mainly).

I fully appreciate that the changes to the engines of Windows and Office have made some great improvement, but I fail to see where the user interface changes have made an iota of improvement for the users of Word, Excel, Photoshop, etc. Chrome, Facebook and many of the other new applications could have been developed with the old interfaces.

I use Windows 8.1 on my desktop and mobile phone and I have Windows 10 trial on a spare desktop. I particularly like Windows 8.1 on the phone: it is slick, easy to use and takes fantastic photos for such a small, handy device.

But on my desktop, I still firmly believe that the Windows 7 interface was vastly superior to Windows 8 or 8.1. I’d sum it up by saying that it’s big, blocky and designed for pre-school children.

Hi Terfar,
How does Windows 10 compare to 7 and 8.1?

I currently run XP and Win 7 on 2 desktops. I am just about to get a new pc and going with Win 7 with a view to going straight to Win 10 later.

I thoroughly agree with you with Office interfaces. I have Office 2003 on XP, and much prefer it to later versions. Trying to find anything on the ribbons takes twice as long. Drop down menus are much faster and I wish MS gave you the option to use whichever interface you preferred.

Hi Alfa

Win 10 is looking promising. It sees the return of the familiarity of Win 7 with some of the better enhancements of Win 8. So far its the best of both worlds but it’s a long way from being finalised… so who knows where it may finish!

If you’re really interested, you can use one of your current PCs to test it for yourself. You can set up a Virtual PC on one of the machines and install Windows 10 without having any affect on the current installation/operation.

A guide how to create a Virtual PC and to install Win 10 trial, see http://windowssecrets.com/top-story/how-to-safely-test-drive-win10-step-by-step/

‘maxwild’ says:

‘if MS still offered XP as “the product” with no touch screen’

Contrary to what he says, I think most people would be perfectly happy. There is an old saying. If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it’.

Is there anything that Win 8.x can do that Win 7 could not. Even back as far as Win 95, the interface was perfectly adequate.

Progress is not always for the best. The people of Easter Island slowly improved their methods of cutting down trees to facilitate the production of their statues and look what happened to them.

‘maxwild’, do you really believe that MS produced Win 8.x with the intention of making our lives better. Is anyone that naive?

As to 3rd party hosting of Cloud Computing, the risks are immense. Most independent IT Pros are against how The Cloud is being sold to us. I’ve met hundreds (I get around) and not one thinks it’s a good idea. Internal Clouds, yes, but not external. Besides it’s only a very old idea, repackaged.

Thanks Terfar,
I might have a go at that.

I found where to download it. MS have at least listened to people wanting the start menu back.

Now, if they enable me to have total control of my operating system and files and see what my temporary internet files are before I delete them, I will be fairly happy. I understand that they have made Windows more secure from kids but they also need to consider those with experience who want total control of their computers.

With every new operating system there are people questioning suggesting that we would be better without it. I remember this at the time we graphical user interfaces appeared, at the time when most people used DOS. And why do we need a mouse when a keyboard will do the job? We still have many who cannot see the point in having laptops, tablets and smartphones. I see an advantage in keeping reasonably up to date but not to be an early adopter faced with many teething problems.

Yesterday I took a disabled chap to a pre-Christmas meal organised by a charity I’m involved with. He told me that his ISP has recently withdrawn its dial-up service and wondered how to get his Time computer back on line. Windows 95 and no Ethernet or even USB ports. I suggested he cancelled his dedicated phone line and bought a new computer, but wonder how he will cope with the transition.

Wow, Windows 95 on dial-up must be a nightmare on the internet as XP is unable to display some websites.

I would think he might adjust to Windows 7 better than Windows 8 though it does annoy me that Windows 7 costs more than Windows 8.

I still don’t have a tablet and I don’t think my 4 year old mobile is classed as a smartphone. I have no need of them so don’t waste money on them.

This forcing of upgrades is one aspect of IT I have an issue with.

With traditional business models, it’s never done for the customers benefit. Yes, tweaks and bug fixes are part of the process, but can you imagine MS issuing Windows 10 or Office 365 for free?

How about a free Xbox and you just pay for the games? You never know…. Actually I think we all do know.

If it was a choice, users could make up their mind if the new offerings matched their needs, but often it’s not a choice.

Alternative business models DO give their core products for free and then charge for services around those products, but those services are never a necessity.

Max Wild says:
2 December 2014

Computer printers and their replacement ink supplies might be an example of the business model you posit?

How I wish that someone high up in Microsoft would actually see and read these comments. The people posting here exemplify “normal” computer users. And we all feel very strongly about this, feel that we were cheated and taken advantage of, and much as we believe that we should be entitled to a free update from Microsoft we have no hope that they will actually do it.

Given that Microsoft actually has effective competition now, they really should consider how deeply unpopular they are becoming, and regard this as a real opportunity to turn that around.

IT Project Management? says:
30 November 2014

All types of user should have been invited to participate in the development of Windows 8. Especially the design and testing phases. By user types I mean people with academic, scientific, business and home use backgrounds (with novice, intermediate and experienced people of all age groups for each type).

This is standard IT development practice but was (mostly) bypassed. Had it not been, the perfectly valid comments made by many Which readers would have been said long before the release of Windows 8, not afterwards. Corrections could then have been made.

Absolutely. And MS listened too. Anyone can download Windows 10 to trial it and participate in feature discussion. As they happen changes are pushed out automatically and regularly too.

I’ve just had a friend ring up from Cyprus as his laptop has forced an upgrade from 8 to 8.1 on him. And guess what very little of his things now work.

Why when things get upgraded can’t they at least see what you’re using and convert them rather than having to get me to re-install over the phone all the browser addons.

I for one don’t care that they would have upgraded his version if IE, if it doesn’t take all the things he was using its a downgrade.

irbane says:
1 December 2014

Having moved to a new computer with Win8.1 when XP ceased to be supported, I find the new environment quite acceptable. Providing you make sure the first screen after start-up is the desktop option rather than the tiles and all the applications/software you need is pinned to the task bar, it is better than the old XP desktop with shortcuts and looks and operates similarly to an iMac’s startup screen! You don’t even have to hit the windows key or click on the windows icon to get back to the tiles screen to power off, you can just press down the mouse’s scroll wheel without looking!

irbane says:
1 December 2014

…………….and yes I think MS should make Win10 upgrades free, after all Apple do it with iOS

… and OSX, the operating system on Apple computers.

I should hope so to, given the high price of Apple products.

Love the juxtaposition of “lawyers say” and “trustworthy” ……..

Quite happy with Windows 8 now – it is stable and quick.

Once I could hide the Metro Interface forever more and I installed a copy of Start 8 to restore the Start Menu I was fine.

At least Microsoft made an admittedly half-ar*&ed attempt at incorporating touch in to their OS – I have a choice of methods for interacting with my Laptops now.

iOS is not touch-enabled and feels quite behind the curve now.

Android isn’t a suitable OS for PCs.

So still only one game in town for me.

Steve Gouldstone says:
6 December 2014

You can’t really equate Microsoft and Apple giving away a free update of the operating system.

Apple makes most of it’s profits from selling expensive hardware. The software on top is just there to sell the hardware.

Microsoft, on the other hand, only sell software (ignoring Xbox etc). They would effectively be throwing away an immense amount of revenue by giving Windows 10 away free.

I certainly think it seems reasonable for them to give big discounts on Windows 10, but probably giving it away would be suicidal.

Apple used to charge a lot for its operating system, then it became much cheaper, and now upgrades are free. Microsoft has done better at providing long-term support for its operating systems.

Paid-for web browsers were never popular, and we don’t pay for updates for mobile phone software, whichever OS we choose. It’s clear to me that the best way forward is to charge for installation of Windows on a computer and let people install alternative versions to suit their needs.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan, you are of course correct , except for one thing.

MS have been doing this for years, it’s just that they are getting more and more desperate. In this age of ‘open source’ they are trying to maintain a monopolistic business model.

They will fail, but it will take a while and it won’t be good for business and consequently the reputation of IT departments the world over. Change is always costly and difficult.

After 30 (ish) years of being an MS specialist, I’m seriously considering changing technologies, or God forbid, leaving IT altogether.

Yes, I think it might be getting that bad.

The whole IT environment is how it was 25 years ago. Lots of comparable competing products. An unstable and unprofitable environment to be freelance in

It will of course settle down, but I suspect that I will have retired from IT by then.

The problem I see with Windows upgrades isn’t only the cost of a new version of Windows. It is the hours spent re-installing software, finding registration passwords and so on. The big financial issue is that many versions of trusted software will no longer run, and therefore customers have to buy new versions, and probably learn how to use them as well.

The original idea of Windows was that all programs would look and feel the same, with drop down menus and so on. This would apply whether they were games, finance programs, word processors, manipulated photos (remember PhotoEdit?) or video, or controlled power stations. Oh how that has changed!

GUI versions of Linux ought to do better, but they don’t. Installing software isn’t easy, with many “dependencies” that don’t install automatically. Often it is a case of cut and pasting non-intuitive lines of command code from web pages onto the command prompt. Even assuming users can master all that, there are still many items of hardware such as printers, cameras and radio/TV tuners that don’t have Linux support.

In the early days of computers, people used to be able to write their own software using BASIC variants. Originally Windows had Visual Basic which was a similar but improved version of this. However now it is buried in a vastly complex package called Visual Studio which costs more than the computers upon which it is run. You would probably need a three year college course to be able to make full and proper use of the financial expenditure on that product, as opposed to a few hours with the manual as with languages like BBC, Spectrum or QL BASIC. There is the Raspberry Pi, but apart from using it as a controller of something, I can’t see it taking a similar place as 1980s home computers. Its language, Python, was started as a joke and isn’t intuitive. (ie has to be learned.)

Having written all that, I must acknowledge that it is amazing what modern home computers can achieve using commercially manufactured software, especially with communications, photography and video processing.

Microsoft produces operating systems and other software which is installed on the great majority of desktop computers. They will no doubt continue for a long time yet doing just that, occasionally unfortunately making the sort of mistakes exemplified by Vista and W8. Their business model is similar to that of Apple, in that you pay a lot for the software, but it comes from a single source and mostly hangs together well. If you are a business organisation, you will adopt a low-risk route; your priorities will be absolute software compatibility with other users and availability of support from a single organisation.

For the personal user, priorities are often different, with cost being a more significant factor. It is not just a question of upgrading software, although that is expensive enough, but each new version of operating system seems to require a new computer. When XP support ended, I helped a number of people to continue to use their existing computers by replacing XP with a Linux distribution appropriate to the hardware. All of them are highly delighted, as their computers now run much faster than they did with XP and with fewer problems. I chose the Linux distributions carefully, not only taking account of the available hardware, but also ensuring a high security level with minimal user intervention and a reasonably familiar user interface as far as possible. The level of support required from me has been minimal, especially considering the users have had years of familiarity with Windows and zero with Linux.

This approach will not suit everyone, but it is much more viable than perhaps some would appreciate. In general, Linux can be run from a CD or DVD, so there is plenty of opportunity to experiment and, unlike Windows, the choice is huge. Having said that, with all the above conversions, the users left it up to me!

92% of you said Windows 10 should be free for Windows 8 owners. Well it’ll be free for Windows 7 owners too:

“Today was a monumental day for us on the Windows team because we shared our desire to redefine the relationship we have with you – our customers. We announced that a free upgrade for Windows 10 will be made available to customers running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 who upgrade in the first year after launch.”

http://blogs.windows.com/bloggingwindows/2015/01/21/the-next-generation-of-windows-windows-10/

Apple has stopped charging for operating system upgrades and no-one pays to upgrade the operating system on their mobile phone. The way forward should be to pay for a licence when you buy a new computer and be able to install whichever version suits of the operating system suits you best. It is important to be able to install an older version, whether it is because you don’t like the latest version or you have expensive software or hardware that is not compatible with the new system.

The group that really deserved a free upgrade are users of Windows Vista.

Too right. I had to replace my PC when the old one conked out and Vista was the way to go [at the time]. It is now widely recognised as one of the industry’s lemons. I am used to it but it could be better. We have desktop PC’s that are also running older and newer Windows systems and I much prefer Vista to Windows 8. I really should be replacing the PC running Vista because it is grinding and churning a bit too much for my liking nowadays; I am just hoping it won’t peg out until Windows 10 is available. We’ll probably take the free upgrades on the PC’s running Windows 7 and 8 and leave the one with XP for use with specific off-line applications.

Pete Outram says:
22 January 2015

Wow! What a turnaround. Something free from Microsoft at last. I’ll give it 10. I am on 7, and 8.1 phone which is much better. Looking forward to my 10 though, if there is no catch? Best wishes to you all. Happy new year news. I will drink to that.