Windows 10 should be free to drive Microsoft back to position one

Written by
  • 5 years ago
  • Posted: October 2, 2014 at 4:02 am

It has been two months since I saw the beloved Windows XP in action, I saw it at a printing bureau outside Kenya Poly. The attendant requested me to use it for a few minutes as he couldn’t understand what I wanted done. I detested it. I don’t know whether my detest for Windows XP is because I had taken so many years away from the system or it is because the comp running the OS was way too slow compared to what I am used to, it kept on hanging and crashing requiring frequent restarts before any work could get done – I just wondered why the business owner of that printing bureau had stuck with Windows XP at a time when people had moved on to Windows 8.1 – that’s four Windows down the line.

Read: Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP

Read: Trouble for the ATM Machines as Microsoft halts Windows XP support

As the comp continued to crash and hang and crap, I cursed and blamed and scratched – my head. Then I remembered that I am stuck with Windows 7 too. To remove the log in my own eyes, I started asking myself why I didn’t upgrade to Windows 8 and later to Windows 8.1. I went a step further, I asked myself how I moved from Windows XP to Windows 7. Wait a minute, that means I didn’t use Windows Vista.

When Windows Vista was announced in 2005 and after two years of tech preview, it got released worldwide in 2007. When it arrived in Kenya, my tech savvy high school friend by that time invited me to have a look at it. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it because somehow I couldn’t do things I was used to doing in the same way I was used to doing them. Vista was a complete overhaul of Windows XP experience. Folders didn’t work as folders anymore. Files weren’t managed in the same manner, and yeah, as much as a hack was available for free installation, I skipped that one. Many people didn’t like Windows Vista either. As Wikipedia has it, “Windows Vista had seen initial adoption and satisfaction rates lower than Windows XP”.

Then came in Windows 7, my favorite. In a distant way by user experience Windows 7 had some familiarity to Windows XP, as much as it tried to retain most functionalities introduced by Windows Vista. I am currently stuck to Windows 7. The reason I didn’t upgrade to Windows 8 is because the similar criticisms people had against Windows Vista were every where against Windows 8. Windows 8.1 tried to level out some those criticisms but well, I didn’t give that version of 8 much attention.

I’m lying, the real reason I didn’t upgrade to Windows 8.1 is because I didn’t, and I don’t plan to, buy an OS after paying for a previous perfectly working version. 

Could that be the same reason a number of Windows XP users haven’t moved on to any other version of subsequent Windows? I bet the answer is a big yes.

People running Windows XP and below, and a number who acquired Windows Vista, didn’t get their versions of Windows by any legal means – most of these people run pirated software. From 2006 up to 2009 I was a Systems Administrator for several small businesses and companies in Nairobi and Mombasa and at no time did I lay my hands on a genuine Windows Operating System, neither did I deal with a genuine Microsoft Office Package or other software for that matter. I even had the privilege to interact with System Administrators of big learning institutions, both private and public, and these System Administrators also used pirated Windows, Microsoft Office Packages and a number of other software packages. They are the ones who always sorted me whenever I needed this software or that other one.

During those years, people used to buy a comp with free DOS – and that’s one reason computers were very cheap. After you bought a computer, it was up to you to install the OS and other necessary Software and close to a 100% of the time people installed pirated Software. From 2008 to around 2011 Microsoft went on rampage to crackdown on those running pirated Windows and Office Package and that’s why in those years cyber cafes everywhere ran to Obuntu.

When Windows 7 came, it came already installed in most machines that were on sale through to the release of Windows 8 in 2012. A few machines are still being sold with Windows 7. In essence, hardly any Kenyan bought Windows 7 out of the box but acquired the OS as part of the comp or laptop. And I do believe the sole reason behind Kenyans not buying the OSes but prefer to pirate them is because they are too expensive; and upgrades doesn’t make them any cheaper.

Windows cost roughly between Shs 10,000 and Shs 13,000. If you bought a laptop with Windows 7 installed at Shs 65,000 for instance, it is highly likely that the laptop could have cost you Shs 52,000 or thereabout without the OS; meaning you paid for the OS at the retail price. Two to three years down the line, Microsoft releases another version of the OS and instead of pushing the new version to your machine for free, it wants you to buy, not at a discount, but at the same price as a new Windows user will buy it – at Shs 10,000 or more.

It doesn’t work like that in the smartphone/tablet world thanks to Apple, and Google. It is highly likely that you do have an Android device. Let’s forget Android, the phone manufacturer gets it for free from Google. Let’s assume you are an iPhone user.

If you bought iPhone 4S at the time of release back in October 2011, you surely bought it with iOS 5. However, when iOS 6, iOS 7 and now iOS 8 were released, you were given these upgrades without being required to part with any extra money. The only way an iPhone 4S user will be required to pay for the full amount of iOS 8 is if he/she chooses to buy iPhone 6 or any other new Apple device running on iOS 8.

Windows 10 will not only run on PCs but will also be the OS for Windows based tablets and smartphones. If you have Nokia Lumia 930 that runs on Windows 8.1 for instance, you will probably be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. If as a smartphone user you won’t be required to buy Windows 10 as an upgrade to your phone , will it be a fair requirement for a PC user who has Windows 8.1 to pay for Windows 10? Note: There is no phone manufacturer that offers OS upgrades for cash and Microsoft won’t go that route unless it wants to lose in the smartphone segment.

If the answer is no, will it therefore be fair for any genuine Windows PC user to be required to upgrade from any previous Windows version to Windows 10? Or to any other later Windows that might come some day?

Microsoft should maximize earnings from Apps, content and search, just like Apple and Google

The reason Google is giving phone and tablet manufacturers Android for free is because it knows how to generate money from Google Products that come pre-installed in Android such as Google Search, YouTube and Google Maps. Google also makes money though subscription to Apps or Apps purchased via Google Play. The same approach is used by Apple although Apple has gone a step further to generate revenues from content such as music and videos via iTune. These revenue bases for Google and Apple has enabled them stay afloat even when they give their OSes for free.

I think it is time Microsoft stopped pursuing money where money doesn’t belong but rather went for platforms such as gadgets, search, maps, apps, social media and content just as the rest to make real money. Money is no longer in OS and PC software – after all PC shipments have been declining since 2012 – the expected rebound in 2015 might not last for long.

Also, today one doesn’t have to use Microsoft Office as the free Open Source packages like Apache Office, Libre Office, Neo Office have become so perfect over time such that they outperform the expensive resource hungry Microsoft Office in some areas. When people shall discover these free packages in droves, and when Internet shall become damn cheap or free everywhere hence opt for options like Chromebooks and Chromeboxes by Google, then if Microsoft doesn’t take note we’ll drive the last nail on her coffin.

Microsoft has actually considered making money from these other sectors and that’s why it ventured into devices by making Microsoft Surface that has been upgraded to Microsoft Surface Pro 3. From last year to early this year Micfosoft bought Nokia that it is slowly transforming to become its fully fledged devices division. With tablets, laptops and smartphones being produced, Microsoft has been concentrating in revamping its Windows Online Store and has started making some cool money from Windows run devices like the Nokia Lumia series.

When features of Windows 10 are keenly looked at, one realizes that the Start Menu in Windows 7 together with the Search function is back. The search function is not only back in the Start Menu, but it has also been pinned on the Task Bar. That’s not all, other than the Search being enabled to search for files and directories in the local and attached drives, it will also be able to search online and effectively makes it Bing – Bing has replaced your Windows Search Menu.

Windows 10 therefore becomes the OS that should scare Google. As much as Google is the number one search engine, over 90% of computer users, including Mac users, use Windows as their OS. These people especially those using Windows XP and above are all likely to upgrade to Windows 10 – if Windows 10 is made free for them. With Windows 10 having Bing as the default search engine,  be assured that Google Search will be easily pushed to a large distant second place in PC based searches.

And the search function on Windows 10 will surely be used as Windows 10 will be loved by many. Other than the revamped Windows 7 Start Menu that incorporates tiles from Windows 8, Windows 10 will also offer the same experience across all of your devices as every device, be it PC, tablet or smartphone will run on the same Windows and have access to the same Apps. Windows 10 will also enable moving, resizing, and simply operating Apps as normal application programmes on PCs, allow for snapping and tiling Apps and programmes easily on the desktop, detect when you are using the keyboard/mouse or your fingers and change the user interface accordingly thanks to what Microsoft calls continuum, and Windows 10 will also allow for the desktop to be split into two e.g. one for home and another for office. So people will love, and already love, Windows 10 hence they will by default use Bing for web search.

The potential in form of search revenue Bing on Windows 10 stand to offer Microsoft is therefore enormous. This potential alone should convince Microsoft to offer Windows 10 for free for all PC users, and thus the former number one corporation in the world by market capitalization will be several steps towards its former place.

Who thinks Windows 10 ought not to be free? Your views are welcome.

What is your opinion on the topic?
Odipo Riaga
Managing Editor at KachTech Analytics Ltd
Film Director, Tech and Business Blogger, Chess Player, and Photographer. God is Science.
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