Apple has already gone the route of offering their OS for free for the last two major updates, Mavericks and Yosemite respectively, and now it seems that starting from Windows 10 Microsoft is also more or less going to adopt this same approach. In a nutshell this will mean free Windows 10 update for current Windows 7 and 8.1 users during the first year of Windows 10’s lifespan.
This sounds like a good deal for many people, and it really is. Upgrading your old Windows 7 installation with brand spanking new Windows 10 without any fees is sure to grab the attention of customers. After all Windows 7 and 8.x collectively dominate the Windows PC empire with over 50% share, so there are bound to be lots of people taking advantage of this upcoming offer.
To subscribe or not to subscribe?
But what will happen after that one-year “trial” ends? So far nothing definitive has been unveiled, but considering that there is no such thing as free lunch we can only speculate on paid options like some sort of subscription model or another one-time fee to continue using the system after the first free year has passed. Seeing how Microsoft already offers their Office 365 application suite with a subscription based model starting from $69.99 annually we might have to prepare for this type of payment structure. Apple, on the other hand, will keep on releasing their major system upgrades free of charge, so it’s interesting to see how well is Microsoft able to respond to this.
The mobile version of Windows 10 for current Windows Phone devices will also follow the same pricing model as its bigger brother and made available worldwide later this year. Windows Phone as a standalone operating system will be put to rest and the whole ecosystem will ride under the same Windows 10 name for uniformity. It’s practically the same OS across all devices, but those with smaller than 8-inch screens will get a separate, more downscaled version. So the upgrade from Windows Phone 8.1 will be available free of charge during the first year after the launch.
Windows 10 is currently in public testing via their Technical Preview version which users are able to download and install on their systems, so people have been starting to get the taste of the new update model that Microsoft will be using with their Windows 10 line of operating systems.
Microsoft’s plan is to offer separate updates via separate update channels depending on the system version and what the user expects and needs from their system. This is to say that some versions of Windows 10 will either get different updates later than other versions, or they won’t get those updates at all. Initially this might sound like a nonsensical approach, but considering how your average home user has no need for administrative tools or other server components the execution sounds like a good one. However Microsoft promises that all security updates will be rolled out at the same time leaving no version of the system vulnerable at any point of their lifecycle.
Are there free lunches after all?
As a Linux user I have become to expect all the major upgrades to be free after, so seeing Microsoft taking small steps on the same path as Apple comes as relief. I still use Windows 7 at times, especially at work, and I’m sure that I will be taking up their free upgrade offer in order to test the system out. But will that convince me to switch back to full-time Windows user? Will a free preview of one year be able to do that? Highly unlikely.
Quite honestly I can say that I have no idea. I’ve heard lots of good things about Windows 10 Technical Preview version but I have not installed it myself. Yet I will surely be upgrading my installation of Windows 7 when the time comes. But what will happen during that year? That shall remain to be seen, but I cannot even start guessing the outcome.
I would assume that the answer lies within the yet undisclosed pricing of the system. Considering that I do currently possess a system that’s enough for my needs, receives timely security updates and I can rest assured that the next major upgrade will be available free of charge, why would I start paying for something else?
Nobody is sure if Microsoft knows this even themselves, but until the payment structure gets unveiled there is no way to know if this supposed switch would make sense for many people. Or maybe they will just ditch the idea altogether and go the Apple-way giving their upgrades away for free. That would surely help their cause drastically, especially considering how vast the Windows user base is in general.