Should Windows Upgrades Be Free?

November 5, 2014

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b2ap3_thumbnail_free_windows_updates_400.jpgAll operating systems change over time, and upgrades are eventually made available. But in light of Windows 10, Windows Threshold, or whatever their new OS’s final incarnation is going to be called, one has to wonder if Microsoft has ever considered free upgrades to the Windows operating system family tree.

As we know from the Windows XP end of support date earlier this year, price can be an issue for those who want to upgrade to a more recent operating system. It’s not just because of the software, though; hardware can often be an issue, as well. When Windows Vista was first launched, many users continued to keep Windows XP due to Vista needing more powerful (and expensive) hardware to operate it.

Could this potentially remain a problem with the looming end-of-mainstream-support date for the extremely popular Windows 7? We don’t know; but what we do know is that Tony Bradley of TechRepublic has some pretty strong opinions about Windows upgrades being free in the near future. He lists several reasons why Windows should be free, especially considering the states of other operating systems used.

  • Several other operating systems are free to upgrade. Mobile operating systems, like iOS and Android, are constantly being updated, and each new version of the operating systems are free. This frees the companies from the worrisome users concerned that they may not be able to afford the new version. Even Mac OS X upgrades are free, while new versions of Microsoft leech money out of users’ pockets with each upgrade. Windows users will see that other platforms provide free upgrades, and it will hurt Microsoft’s economy.
  • Operating system adoption is also subject to inertia.” When an object is put into motion, it stays in motion until something else stops it. This is the case with operating system downloads. When the latest version is released, its users buy into it and it earns a greater market share. People will continue to download it until something steps in their path – the price. If an operating system is free, more people will download it and new users supplement the fall in revenue over time.
  • Perhaps Microsoft doesn’t need to impose prices for its Windows upgrades. Bradley suggests that, due to the nature of technology, technology will become outdated and customers have to replace it eventually anyway. If they don’t replace it, they “cling to their 10-year old hardware,” rather than purchase new machines for the latest operating system. If, on the other hand, their machine breaks, they will buy a new one, often with the latest operating system. Therefore, Microsoft really only needs to provide upgrades for current Windows users who have had their copies licensed, while still charging big technology manufacturers for new machines installed with Windows.

Obviously, a company like Microsoft is in the software business to make money, as most businesses (well, successful ones, anyway…) set out to do. It’s understandable why they don’t make Windows upgrades free, but from a business standpoint, they could lose so much more; for instance, those who are drawn more toward Apple’s free OS upgrades.

What are your thoughts on free Windows upgrades? Would it be too good to be true, or a smart move on Microsoft’s part? Voice your opinion in the comments, and reach out to CTN Solutions at (610) 828- 5500 for any technology upgrades that your business might need.


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