Windows 10: Microsoft's New Business Strategy

Written by BradzTech on Aug 15, 2015

Windows 10 marks a significant change in Microsoft's business strategy. The fact that it is offering Windows 7 and Windows 8 users a free upgrade (for a limited time) already demonstrates a major contrast to past versions. However, Microsoft might be doing this to coax users to upgrade, only to gain more revenue down the line!

Avoid Another Windows XP

The company is pushing the idea of Windows "as a service". It doesn't want Windows XP to happen again, where millions used the operating system for more a decade. In the meantime, Windows XP fell behind the company's latest OS, first Vista, then 7, then 8. Finally, Microsoft stopped supporting it due to the innumerable XP-specific security issues that multiplied over time. Additionally, those outdated users grew unable to use the latest software. Then again, there was no way for Microsoft to force users to update because:

  1. Many systems had hardware that couldn't support Windows Vista or 7
  2. Microsoft still charged a $100+ fee, even for upgraders!

Windows 10, on the other hand:

  1. Has approximately the same hardware requirements as Windows 7 or 8
  2. Is a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users

Microsoft's main reason for keeping all its users on the latest software is so any user can use all the latest apps -- especially ones downloaded from the Windows Store. Microsoft gets a percentage of the revenue when one purchases an app from the Windows Store. Thus, by making the update free, Microsoft plans to profit off of Windows 10 updaters down the line through the Windows Store.

Forced Updates

Microsoft is not only attempting to update all Windows users to Windows 10. Once one updates to Windows 10, they will virtually always be running the latest version of Windows. As part of the updated Windows 10 license agreement, one must install every software update to Windows. In the past, there was an option to disable updates, though few utilized it because updates can fix security issues. Now there's no longer a way to prevent Microsoft from restarting your computer "when you're not using it" to install its latest modifications on your computer. Again, updates aren't entirely bad, in fact, they typically benefit the user. On the other hand though, it's rather scary that Microsoft could decide to modify or take away certain features at its disposal. Because of this new concept of forced updates, there likely won't be another Windows (such as Windows 11) anytime soon. In fact, many are touting Windows 10 as "the last version of Windows". While this phrase holds some truth to it, it's also probably an exaggeration -- as computer hardware continues to evolve, we'll eventually need another operating system. Additionally, it's important to remember "Windows as a service", where the OS is now constantly evolving courtesy of forced updates.

Windows 10's Monthly Charges

Apart from the Windows Store, there are two other instances of Microsoft's plot to profit off of those that take advantage of the "free" upgrade offer.

  1. Windows 10's Microsoft Solitare Collection -- Premium DialogSolitaire has been in Windows since version 3.0. Don't worry, it's still in Windows 10; in fact, it's the only game that ships with the OS. It's now called Microsoft Solitaire Collection, and while Microsoft has visually improved the card game, they have also monetized it. It contains rather annoying, full-screen advertisements that force you to watch the full 30 seconds. One can remove the ads and get a few other in-game bonuses by upgrading to premium for only $1.49/month or $8.99/year!
    • Minesweeper, Mahjong, and other casual games have a very similar situation, having ads and an option to disable them for a monthly charge. However, these games do not come with the OS; rather, they're free downloads from the Windows Store.
  2. DVD Movies have played in Windows without extra software for over a decade, so I was shocked when I inserted a DVD in my computer and I needed to download an app just to play it. Microsoft has created Windows DVD Player to provide a simple way for consumers to play DVDs, but the app costs an additional $14.99! Additionally, the app isn't even particularly feature-packed and is attracting very poor reviews. If you need to play a DVD, you're much better off downloading a free, more powerful media player such as VLC. It's a shame Microsoft forces users to go through all this effort to watch a simple DVD, because they're trying to make an extra $15!

On the bright side, these instances of Microsoft's monetization are currently very minor and may only affect a small portion of Windows users. Having said that, the company could theoretically send out a forced update at any time that contains more shenanigans! Imagine logging on to your computer one day and seeing ads begin to pop up while using email, in addition to a new option to disable email ads for a yearly fee...

About BradzTech

Welcome! I'm BradzTech, a Computer Science student at Rochester Institute of Technology. I am passionate about computers and analyzing the latest happenings in the rapidly developing modern field of technology, specifically, using it to help people. I share my thoughts on Twitter and, occasionally, here on my blog. Learn more about me.