Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Techy Tuesday - Microsoft Changing Their Business Model?

If I asked you to do word association with the word Microsoft, chances are you'll say Windows.  Microsoft got its big boost as a business and into the upper echelons of the business world by providing the operating system for the IBM PC (PC-DOS) in 1981 and has dominated the world of computer OS sales almost since then.  Windows has been with us since 1985 (frankly, that surprised me, my first version of windows was 3.1 in the early 90s).

And all through that time, Microsoft has hounded the users to pay up for their OS as well as any application they sell.  Bill Gates, in fact, is famous for having written an "Open Letter to Hobbyists" in 1976 complaining about rampant copying of his BASIC programming language for the first home computers.

With that in mind, I was surprised to learn the distribution model for the next version of Windows, which will skip 9 and go directly to 10, will be distributed free, if you upgrade from Windows 7, 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1 within one year of the final release.  (It's currently available for anyone who wants to Beta test it).

The exact mechanics of how this will work aren't clear to me.  It appears to be real (not rumor), but the plan is still in development.  Windows 10 will remain free for the lifetime of the device on which you upgraded during that first year.  The reporter said they don't really know how they plan to get paid for the products, much less how they'll handle updates or upgrades to Service Pack 1 when that inevitably comes out.  Their goal appears to get all Windows users: desktop, Surface tablet, Windows phone, or whatever, using a common OS; with the goal of a common experience across all platforms.  Microsoft uses terms like:

  • mobility of experience across an increasing number of devices
  • trust, putting people in control of their privacy because they are the customer, not the product
  • natural interactions via voice, pen, gestures, and gaze in an intuitive way
  • But I couldn't help but think:
    One OS to rule them all 
    One OS to find them 
    One OS to bring them all 
    and in the darkness bind them.
    The list of features gets a giant "Meh" out of me with a possible exception or two.  But the change from the old way of buying Windows is the unusual thing here.  
    Details on the features, etc., here


    1. While I've been forced to use Windows at work (VA Medical Center, and on campus during RN school), I've been an Apple/Mac user since 1978. IIRC, Apple came out with the Mac GUI before Windows, although I've read unsubstantiated claims that Apple supposedly "stole" the GUI from Microsoft. (I've also heard rumors that Bill Gates named his company after his private parts ;-)

      Microsoft has been taken to task for attempting to monopolize personal computer operating systems on all non-Apple machines for quite a few years, even being taken to court for that charge. So it wouldn't surprise me if they see this as a "back door" method of achieving that.

      Additionally, IIRC, the first Microsoft software to be sold - immediately after the advent of Windows - was "First Aid for Windows". I can see a plethora of new software programs available _at a price_ to fix or supplement W10. Perhaps they will also seek to charge fees to other software companies for access to the development code/tools for W10, and make a percentage off of all W10 based software?

      With Microsoft, I firmly believe there is no motive other than as much profit as the market will bear. As a capitalist, I am in favor of profit, but I tend to see Microsoft as the Cheaper Than Dirt of the software world, ready to take advantage of whatever artificial restraint of trade is available, or which they can create.

    2. Reg T.
      "I've read unsubstantiated claims that Apple supposedly "stole" the GUI from Microsoft"
      As I recall, Apple stole it from Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center).
      OK, I am old.

    3. My father was an engineer for Hewlett Packard, and I had the opportunity meet Mr Gates when I was a teenager. The funny thing is, my dad was not that impressed with him.

      Reg T says that Microsoft only has profit as its motive. Of course they do, but so does every other company, and most people as well. After all, would you continue to go to work if you weren't paid? Would you risk your money in the stock market without compensation?

    4. You can thank me for the free Windows 10 for Windows 8 users. From the time I got the new computer with Windows 8 I have been badgering them to replace this smart phone operating system with a real computer operating system. I have talked to numerous customer service people about every little problem with windows 8 and every time I said that Microsoft needs to give us a new system for free. Some of those guys began to refuse to talk to me. In fact I'm sure Windows 8.1 was because I was such a pain in the ass to them.

    5. Anonymous at 11:09

      I'd believe that before I'd believe Gates.

      A friend of mine was with the group at Xerox who split off to form Adobe was familiar with Apple's GUI (he bought an early Mac) before he started playing with the Mac/with GUI interface

      .Anonymous at 2040 besides not enjoying the Windows environment much, I'll pass on your persistence in encouraging Windows 10. If MS is able to get it to work, I think it will be a financial Trojan Horse that may end up costing you Windows followers more in the was as adjunct sotwfare and machine cost.

    6. That should have read, "Trojan Horse that may end up costing you Windows followers more in the long run via adjunct software and machine cost."

    7. Divemedic,

      It seems my first response to your comment didn't show up.

      It's not kosher to comment on only half of mine. There is a difference between a company which seeks a profit and one whose only concern is profit,. Gates donates money for tax purposes and because of ideology.

      Without a decent profit, no company will be there for us, proving a useful service or profit. Some companies seek excessive profit - beyond s good retrun. Like Cheaper Than Dirt when there was a crunch on Magpul magazines. $60-89 per mag was gouging.

      Yes, a lot of folks decided better than nothing, but Brownell's did the honorable thing: they took order to be filled when available for ten mags for $125. $12.50 oer mag still made them a profit without being greedy.

      Hopefully that makes it clearer without you ASSuming I'm a communist or progressive.