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Microsoft Expands Free Windows Upgrade to Everyone

Windows users, rejoice. Over the weekend, Microsoft announced that its latest operating system, Windows 10, will be free for anyone who wants it. Previously, the company said that it would make the new OS available as a free upgrade, but only to certain users who were currently running Windows 7 or 8.

That arrangement would have excluded anyone still running Windows XP, Vista, or even Windows 7 Enterprise Edition. But that would have left a lot of users, especially a lot of enterprises that have avoided upgrading their systems to Windows 8 following mixed reviews, out in the cold.

Getting Users Onboard with Windows 10

Penalizing users running older versions of the operating system or enterprises that had not made the move to Windows 8 would have presented several problems for Microsoft. For one thing, charging companies to upgrade to the latest Windows version might have had the opposite effect.

The company already suffered a disastrous rollout of the Windows 8 platform, as many users elected to continue using older versions rather than upgrade. As a result, Microsoft can ill afford to have yet another operating system land on the market like a lead balloon.

In addition, the company needs to find a way to recuperate some of the goodwill it lost as a result of the market’s disappointment with Windows 8. Users were either indifferent or openly hostile to the new design. In particular, many people who did not have touchscreen interfaces found the new system difficult to use with the standard mouse and keyboard.

Furthermore, Microsoft largely stands alone in seeing its operating systems as a source of revenue. Apple makes upgrades to its OS available to all users at no charge. Customers also have a wide variety of free Linux distributions to choose from, making the latest version of Windows less of a necessity these days for many users.

Some Assembly Required

Although Windows 10 will be free for everyone, downloading it will come with some very minor strings attached. Users currently running the personal version of Windows 7 or 8 will be able to download the new operating system directly from Microsoft as previously announced. Others, however, will first have to download a beta version of Windows 10.

Here is how it works: users can now download the latest build of the beta version of Windows 10, known as build 10130, for free from the Windows Insider Web site. Once they have the beta version installed on their machines, they will be eligible to download the complete version once it is released on July 29.

Besides appeasing legions of Windows users underwhelmed by Windows 8, the move also helps the company expand the beta test for its latest product. That, in turn, should help Microsoft avoid the kinds of buggy launches that have plagued it in the past.

The move is likely to be well received by the Windows community, but it is anyone’s guess as to how many will actually take advantage of it. Microsoft made the announcement with little fanfare in a company blog post. And with less than six weeks until Windows 10 drops, it is still not clear if users will have to download the beta version before July 29 to take advantage of the deal.


Posted: 2015-06-22 @ 2:50pm PT

@Neil: You are wrong and you seem to be living in the past.

Wrong: I am not an OS X user, even though I have Mac experience going back to the nineties, my main system at work is a Linux flavour, with Windows 7 within an Oracle Virtual Box for the dwindling number of apps that still depends on Windows.

Living in the past: the last time Microsoft had a 90%+ market share of actually used computers (not to be mistaken for sold computers) was five years ago. It’s roughly 56% now, see http://gs.statcounter.com/#all-os-ww-monthly-201405-201505-bar

It is your opinion that “other productivity suites” don’t give the full suite of features that the Microsoft offerings have, and you specifically mention three points:

(1) Collaboration: have you ever tried to simultenously edit a text document in Microsoft Word? With Google’s Doc, I and my coworkers can edit the same text document at the same time. With Microsoft Word, all we can do is email each other the latest version of a document with change tracking on.

(2) Cross-platform compatibility: have you ever tried to use a Microsoft product on an Android tablet, arguably the fastest growing segment in computing devices?

(3) Deeper OneDrive integration: frankly, OneDrive is just one of many cloud offerings, and not the most interesting. While Google’s Docs is, like Microsoft 365, deeply locked into its one and only cloud, with LibreOffice I can use OneDrive, GoogleDrive, DropBox, Amazon S3, or any other cloud provider I fancy. The whole point of choosing a cloud provider is to avoid being walled into a garden. This is why I do not recommend iCloud or GoogleDrive. While Microsoft’s OneDrive is almost system-agnostic, it is not as universal as DropBox.


Posted: 2015-06-22 @ 12:36pm PT

@ByeByeMicroSchrott: That’s your opinion. I’ve been field testing the Win10 TP build 10130 with some people in my company, and the general consensus is that it is miles easier to use than 8/8.1 and just as easy as 7 (with the added benefit of the Windows store).

As an OS X user (which is what you sound like), of course a different OS will be “clumsy and unfamiliar.” The same could be said for me trying to use OS X/Ubuntu/*insert other OS*. I will say this: every OS X lover has to use or deal with Windows in some aspect of their lives (work, schooling, hobby, gaming, etc.); the same cannot be said for Windows users. And it’s foolish to say you can get “most” apps on any OS. If that were the case, windows would not be holding 90 percent share of the PC OS market.

You may be able to find other productivity suites (like the offerings from Mozilla or Google), but the fact of the matter is, you don’t get the full suite of features that the Microsoft offerings have (collaboration, deeper OneDrive integration, cross-platform compatibility).


Posted: 2015-06-22 @ 11:43am PT

No wonder they give it away for free: it is worth *nothing*. I am saying this after going through the hassle of downloading build 10130 and testing it thoroughly. It is clumsy, unfamiliar, and getting things done takes more time than on Mac OSX or even on Ubuntu Linux. Since most use apps run on all three, the choice of operating system becomes one of convenience. Only those poor souls that are still tied to Windows-dependent software will be forced to deal with this additional Microsoft misfit. For the Web, there is Chrome or Firefox. For e-mail there is Thunderbird. For Office there is Libre Office. Microsoft continues fading into irrelevance. Google is the new Microsoft.

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