Microsoft Offers Windows 10 Free Of Cost With Number Of Innovative Features – But Is All As Rosy As It Appears?
Microsoft has announced that its new Windows operating system will be made available at no cost to consumers, bringing an era spanning almost 30 years of paid for system software to an end.
The decision to do away with paid for operating systems follows the widely considered flop that was the launch of Windows 8. Met with worldwide derision, Windows 8 failed to sway an overwhelming proportion of browsers to switch from Windows 7 with research from prominent technological market research company, Forrester, showing that 90% of PCs use alternate operate systems to Windows 8.
The announcement was made during an event at Microsoft’s headquarters in Richmond, Washington, and came with a couple of strings attached – the new version will only come free to users of Microsoft 7 and 8.1, and only for the first 12 months of purchase. The date for release has not been specified but is expected to be in the latter stages of 2015.
Microsoft’s intent to clearly distinguish between Windows 10 and the tarnished repute of its predecessor is underlined by its skipping out of Windows 9, as it “seeks to make Windows 10 the most loved release of Windows” thus far.
“Today’s a big day. A big day for Windows. What it means to our customers, our partners and Microsoft,” said Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive officer. “We want to move from people needing Windows to people loving Windows.”
“Windows has always been grounded in the idea that technology should help individuals and organizations do great things,” said Microsoft executive vice president of operating systems Terry Myerson. He said the system would “support the broadest device family ever”.
What to expect from the Windows Revolution?
Windows 10 comes with a plethora of new features, but it is the reintroduction of a much loved aspect of Windows which has grabbed the headlines. The Windows Start menu, so unceremoniously dispensed with for Windows 8, has been brought back to the fore in a move which will be welcomed by the masses.
The new interface is designed to be simple yet effective, with much impetus being placed on faster performance. It will run across a number of devices, both mobile and desktop, as Microsoft seeks to adapt Windows to the digital age.
Underlining its pioneering credentials, Microsoft have included their audacious hologram model as part of the Windows 10 launch. Users can wear a holographic headset to project computer-generated images in front of them. The idea is that people will be able to conduct video conferences or Skype chats as though the party they are talking to is in the same room. The holographic experience has taken 5 years to prepare for release, and the hardware will function for other, admittedly lesser, virtual reality software such as Google Glass.
Microsoft also announced that comprehensive improvements have been made to its signature Office applications, with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher etc.
Internet Explorer, expected to undergo a much needed re-vamp, has instead been completely done away with and replaced with a new browser – the tellingly named ‘Spartan’. Adding a number of new ways of sharing web pages and accessing information, Spartan provides a far smoother user experience than IE, and has had the large portions of unnecessary code, alleged to have slowed down IE, erased in order to increase loading times.
With general public consensus considering Google’s ‘Chrome’ to be the most efficient way of browsing, Microsoft have sought to claim back their web surfing crown.
Microsoft also made a statement of intent in the way of artificial intelligence, making its voice assistant Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, available for desktop users as well as mobile devices. Named after the Halo 3 game character, Cortana allows users to verbally tell their computers to find them solutions, such as answering search queries or logging a specific date in a calendar.
Early reports have lauded the speed and accuracy of Microsoft’s technological developments, but executives at the event insisting that the products were in experimental stages and further progression is expected in the coming months.
The Windows 10 Revolution is littered with Risk
Satya Nadella delivered a robust spiel on Microsoft’s ambitions: “We are going to have services everywhere. We are not bolting on apps, we are seamlessly harmonizing experiences,”
“We are going to have our services and their endpoints everywhere. But we believe Windows is home for the very best of Microsoft experiences.”
As wonderful as harmonising experiences sounds, to believe the overhaul Microsoft are undertaking to be ‘seamless’ is folly. The failure of Windows 8 is a scenario which the software giants’ cannot risk replicating, and as such their ‘marketing hand’ has been forced into luring customers in with the promise of free upgrades to Windows 10 software to Windows 7 and 8 customers.
Firstly, Windows need customers to buy into the future of Windows, and return to the cycle of upgrades. That the majority of users turned their noses up at Windows 8 meant that the majority of their customer base has remained on Windows 7, which will incidentally stop being supported by 2020. If a similar proportion did not upgrade this time, Microsoft’s estimated annual revenue of over $18bn from licenses will diminish sharply.
In addition, Windows 7 is not compatible with Microsoft’s app store – and as the majority of Microsoft’s users are still using it, the software mammoth is losing out on sizeable sums of revenue, whilst also languishing behind both Google and Apple in cross-device interaction.
Updates to Artificial Intelligence and the implementation of gimmicks such as holographic headsets appear ostensibly as glamorous cover ups for Microsoft’s real intent – to put itself back on the map. Currently it’s a steam engine languishing behind the bullet trains that are Google and Apple.
Microsoft’s mobile game is weak by comparison and its search endeavours, in the form of Bing, continue to pale in the wake of Google and even Yahoo. But an increase in presence could enhance both these endeavours, as Microsoft’s name carries so much weight, and if their new product is considered a success – it is likely users everywhere will be happy to talk of the return of Microsoft.
Microsoft are going all in to synthesise a future of Windows users – this long term gamble necessitates the sacrifice of short-term revenue stemming from licences and thus PC sales. The gamble relies on Windows 7 users reacting positively to Windows 10 over the next 2 years, increasing its market share. This could have a domino effect leading to the breaking of revenue dams currently blocking Microsoft’s app market and license selling cash flow.
One thing’s for sure, the operating system better be the ‘most loved release’ the company is billing it as.