Windows 10 Free Upgrade Ends This Week: Rethinking Microsoft's OS


At the end of the week the free upgrade window for Windows 10 closes.   This has been an interesting experience because Windows 10 for the most part stepped in and corrected a series of mistakes Microsoft had been repetitively making since Windows 95.   From Windows 95 on they treated Windows more like an application bundle than an operating system, and the market suffered for it.  It wasn’t just the market the practice blocked Microsoft’s efforts on Smartphones and initial tablets and largely contributed to the resignation of one of Microsoft’s most powerful and long lasting executives Steve Ballmer.  

Next week, with the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition a new page gets turned and I think you’ll find that by the end of the year if your relationship and opinion of Microsoft hasn’t changed for the better already, it will have changed if you are using Windows.

Let me explain.

History of Windows

Windows started out as a way to respond to Steve Jobs’ and Apple’s unwillingness to license the MacOS.   Bill Gates saw the need for a product that could go where Apple was unwilling to go and, at first, Windows was more like an application.   It was a GUI overlay for DOS a command line interface operating system.   It stayed that way until Windows 95 when the two were crammed together and suddenly we had the most popular, in terms of lines waiting for it, product that Microsoft ever produced.

But this was actually a bad thing because it got people thinking of Windows more like an application than an OS.

What Is An OS?

What an operating system is supposed to do is handle all of the base level capabilities that a user needs to run applications on hardware.   It is

                      Image via Bigstock

one half of the initial hardware solution and ideally, because neither the hardware nor the OS can operate alone, it would only be sold as a bundle.  You see this in pretty much everything but PCs you buy.  Whatever the software needed to run it comes with it and you never worry about buying a new OS for your appliances of vehicles, if it needs an update it either happens automatically or a service tech of some type does it for you. 

This pivot from virtually any other technology based product you likely own is largely due to the fact that PCs started out as hobbies for geeks and never really fully evolved away from that concept.  This meant every user was expected to be a little bit techy and, when that wasn’t the case, user satisfaction with the product suffered.  

What is kind of funny is the techy crowd initially hated Windows, and when Microsoft tried to push the ease of use aspect of the product further with Microsoft Bob it outright rebelled, which likely speaks to why Windows didn’t get easier faster.  

Windows 10

For those of you who have made the jump you’ve likely found the water is actually really nice at the Windows 10 end of the pool.  Getting here was likely rather painful but now you have an experience more like you have with your Smartphone or tablet.  You have an on-line store for apps, which now moves with you from PC to PC nearly automatically (with the really annoying exception of Microsoft Office which remains an outlier).  The product is a ton more reliable with few crashes and the only big remaining annoyance is coming in to work and finding an update has occurred, and you have to wait until it finalizes.   This can get kind of annoying if you are already late and your system has had a big update.  

Anniversary Edition

I’ve been running the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition for several days now and I’m impressed that it hasn’t caused me a single problem other than that initial post installation delay.   Menus are still where they belong, largely out of site, and the only issue I’m having is with the Skype preview and that has to do with the fact they’ve apparently hidden all of the hardware setting so I can’t test the camera (and make sure the right one is set up) until I’m actually on a call.   I expect that’ll get fixed because it is incredibly annoying.  

Improvements that don’t get in your way are largely to security and given how many organizations are getting breached at the moment that’s a good thing.  

But Windows 10 reflects a change back to Windows being mostly an operating system again.  Generally, out of the way, mostly hands off, and nearly trouble free.   I’m running it on 3 desktop systems and about 5 laptops and sometimes I forget how improved it is until I’m forced to go back to a Windows 8 or 7 machine.   Once you are used to Windows 10 anything older is just painfully annoying.

Wrapping Up:

End of the week your free move to Windows 10 is over and you’ll have to spend between $100 to $200 for an upgrade or get it on a new PC which, generally, is the best way to get a new OS anyway.  By the way if you are near a Microsoft store they’ll do the upgrade for you and if it doesn’t work on a Windows 10 ready PC they’ll give you a new Dell laptop which is one hell of deal but only till the end of the week.   In addition, there are all kinds of specials running so if you are considering a new PC anyway this week might be an excellent week to go shopping. 

In the end though, Windows 10 represents one of the biggest fixes any company has ever done in their approach to a market and a return to what the OS should have always been, an OS.   

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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