Following on last week's blog regarding the public release of Windows 10 on July 29th it is interesting to look at what the proposed process means for Microsoft and also for PC users around the world.
With at least 60 percent of the PCs in the world still running Windows 7 as their base operating system and over three years having elapsed since the issuing of Windows 8 something had to be done to rebuild confidence in new Microsoft operating software.
During these times the market and computer operating system infra system has undergone a significant change. Part of this change simply relates to the penetration that other operating system have made into the computer install base. For workstations, Apple and PC based operating systems still dominate the market with PCs being in a major lead. The relative relationship between the two have definitely moved towards Apple OS however.
PCs have also been replaced entirely in many people's computing with the advent of tablets, especially with the strength of the iPad in its several versions. Of course other tablets also make up part of the shift with Android based tablets being the biggest component of this change other than the Apple product. Since so many vendors offer Android tablets it is easy for casual computer users to acquire capability without using a PC of any form. Many users who might have chosen to acquire a laptop or workstation can now function with a tablet based product, iPad or Android.
One of the key features of these types of devices is the continuous upgrading of the operating software through downloaded updates. The big differential here is that the upgrades are free and generally available from the hardware vendor as they are released. There is no need to go through the purchase of a new operating system upgrade, it just comes to your device and you click to make it happen (or if you have chosen automatic upgrades it happens in the background.)
For many computer users the device of choice is their cell phone or smart phone as they are more commonly known. Users are constantly online, using their phones more as computing devices than as phones. Again the operating systems for these devices, predominantly Android based or Apple iOS based, get frequent updates at no cost to the hardware owner. Buy your device once, and you get new features, patches etc. for the life of the product or until the hardware vendor decides to no longer support operating system changes. Of course these devices largely have much shorter life spans than do PCs with many being replaced in a year or so after first use.
What does this all mean for Microsoft?
The old process of charging for a new PC operating system every three years of so, offering some new features or improvements, and forcing the upgrade through the channel by refusing to sell the older OSs to the PC vendors has been ended. Did Microsoft offer to provide ongoing upgrade incrementally with Windows 10 because it wanted to?
In a recent CNET article the author says, "The automatic update process is critical...You'll wake up the next morning and realize that you now have the most up-to-date version of Windows without having to put in the effort." This is the exact same process we have become used to with other operating systems. Our expectations of being up to date are considerable.
I use a Nexus 4 Android based phone. I know, its almost two and a half years old, ancient in phone sense. Since it is a Google phone it is always updated to the latest mobile release of Android within days of the release. I expect it and know it will happen. The improvements in the device without any hardware changes have been considerable most obviously in the screen quality which is something I would have thought was a hardware issue but has turned out to be software improved. My Asus Android tablet also gets regularly operating system upgrades, although the hardware improvements have not been as dramatic.
Is this what we can expect to see once we follow the path Microsoft wants us to choose with Windows 10? Don't know but it could be something to experience.
With the promise to notify us when the new windows OS has been downloaded to our computers, ready for us to click and load Microsoft has raised the expectations of many PC users who have just expected their computer to stay the same till it eventually dies and gets replaced. Very few consumer users have ever changed the OS on their PCs from that which they bought as part of their hardware purchase.
Microsoft has taken a big step to change this and it is going to be very interesting to watch in the days and weeks ahead to see how many of us actually click the YES button when the opportunity to launch the new OS is presented to us.
Big stakes for Microsoft. Big stakes for us. Big stakes for computing in general. Stay tuned.