We are thankfully reaching the end of a period of time where Microsoft essentially held its non-Windows 10 using customer base at gunpoint. We’re all quite aware at this point of the dastardly tactics Microsoft have employed to sneak the upgrade onto the PCs of those who didn’t even want it.
So insecure, were Microsoft, of its users not interested in upgrading from a tried and true OS that they began hiding the confirmation in the bloody Close icon! This behaviour of prodding and poking Windows users to upgrade simply isn’t consumer friendly, so why are Microsoft so adamant about it?
There are obviously a few reasons as to why Microsoft will try to justify their strongarm tactics for getting users to upgrade. Having most Windows users on the same operating system means less money they have to spend on customer service and multiple OSs that can be quietly discontinued, as was the case with Windows XP recently.
Also, given Windows 10’s synergy with the Xbox One, Microsoft’s tablet and mobile devices, and of course HoloLens, they’re clearly banking on the quality of life that could come with a unified operating system experience. Windows 10 is a free upgrade until the 29th July 2016, and it has been for about a year at the time of writing. Past that date, Microsoft will start charging for the upgrade and it will be no small fee: around $120 for the basic Home edition, and $200 for the fully featured Pro edition.
Aside from avoiding the price, Microsoft may also be hinting that it’s necessary to upgrade, as it’s entirely possible they could end support for Windows 7 and 8 at a moment’s notice. Operating systems that have their support ceased typically are more susceptible to virus attacks. We even saw this recently with Adobe Flash and Apple’s Quicktime, which quickly became deathtraps for users after their support and updates were stopped for good. However, do Microsoft really have our best interests in mind?
You could argue that it’s naive to think Microsoft has this much respect for its customers. After all, they did hide the Windows 10 upgrade in the prompt’s Close box icon. They were also the company that tried (and thankfully failed) to shoehorn an immensely strict online-only policy on the Xbox One, something that’s had lasting damage on the brand. Microsoft have a habit of playing with fire and it’s burned them badly on more than one occasion. The same thing could happen with the Windows 10 upgrade; people may abandon the software giant for less bullish alternatives like Mac OSX or Linux.
It’s easy to say the whole debacle will simply blow over; Windows 10 will simply exist as a purchaseable product that people can opt into whenever they want. But nothing ever really blows over for Microsoft. Consumers never forget, as was the case with the Xbox One digital rights management that severely impacted the console’s potential sales. Even Bill Gates is still kicking himself over that quote about 640kb being enough for everybody.
The best thing Microsoft can do is relax their forceful Windows 10 campaign and simply accept that some users are happy with 7 or 8. Though perhaps that doesn’t fall into their long term strategy, but what that is we’ll have to wait and see after Windows 10 has been a retail product for a year or two.