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The Power of The Oldie and Windows 10

April 2014

The power of The Oldie should never be underestimated.  In December I wrote that Microsoft should accept that Windows 8 has been a horrible experience for many, even though, under the bonnet, it is safe and fast.  I said that disgruntled customers are owed an apology but I felt that they would settle for a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it’s released. I’ve looked at the Windows 10 test versions, and it’s promising.

It seems that Bill Gates may subscribe to The Oldie; perhaps that’s no surprise, after all, he is semi-retired and will qualify for his Senior Railcard this year.  Perhaps he’ll win an Oldie of the Year award one day.  Anyway, his company has announced that they will be doing exactly as I advised; for the first year of Windows 10’s life, Windows 7 and 8.1 users can have their upgrade for nothing.  It’s not a small gesture; a new version of Windows 8.1 Pro costs £190.

I’m glad they listened to me, but in truth it must have been an easy decision.  The revenue cost to Microsoft will be modest and whilst their return on the cost of developing Windows 10 will be delayed a little, the goodwill generated will be priceless.  More than half the PCs in the world run on windows 7 or 8.

In fact, Microsoft is currently making some pretty solid moves to make us feel good about them.  They’ve declared firmly that we are their customers, not their products; this is aimed at the likes of Google who give you a free service so that they can use what they know about you to sell adverts. The new way of buying Microsoft software (Word, Excel and the like) by subscription is much cheaper and more efficient than the old way.  They’ve also started serious legal action against some of the firms that ring you up and imply that they are from “Microsoft Support” or similar. 

Windows 10 comes out later this year and whilst  I would normally advise waiting for the second version before taking the plunge, Windows 10 is already being extensively tested by millions (yes, millions) of enthusiasts, so when it is released, it will, effectively, already be the second version. 

The Start menu will return (it vanished in Windows 8), and there will be significantly enhanced security and privacy controls.  There will be a new browser (called Spartan) to replace Internet Explorer; this may give Google’s Chrome a run for its money, especially as Chrome seems to me to be becoming more sluggish and inclined to crash, which is why I shifted from Internet Explorer originally.  They will also be introducing Cortana, which they say is a “Personal Assistant”; it’s a system which is intended to be a single, unified way to search for anything on your computer or on the internet. In trials, that looks good, too.

We do not yet know what sort of computing power you will need to run Windows 10.  You should be all right if your computer runs Windows 8.1 without difficulty, but if your machine is a very elderly Windows 7, I’m guessing it might struggle a little bit.

However, if Windows 10 works as well as some experts are predicting, Microsoft will hang on to the most gigantic numbers of users and Mr Gates’ wallet will continue to fill in an efficient manner.

What does this mean for us?  Mainly it means that Microsoft is moving heaven and earth to keep us as customers. More practically, it means that there is no need to delay buying a new Windows computer just because you want to wait for Windows 10.

It also confirms that The Oldie’s influence is wide and its power boundless; just as we all suspected.