Following Apple’s lead of not charging users for operating system upgrades, Microsoft will offer Windows 10 to 7 and 8.1 users free. This initially seems like a bold move because OS sales and upgrades for personal computers have been a prime source of Microsoft’s income over the years. However, as the use of tablets and smartphones has increased, the emphasis on keeping PCs up to date has waned. Nowadays, the real money is in providing services, so Microsoft can afford to offer its latest OS version at no cost to users.
This free upgrade to Windows 10 looks like it will ultimately benefit both Microsoft and its consumers. Users will, of course, have easy access to the latest operating system for their PCs, and this free offering may spur a return to PC usage in general. By showcasing the newest technology for laptops and desktops, there is a greater attraction to using them over tablets and smartphones. This could easily spell a resurgence of the interest in other Microsoft offerings like Office 365 and Outlook, which would translate into higher profits.
By encouraging its users to adopt Windows 10, it will also be easier for Microsoft to integrate its Windows-based devices and develop new software. The upgrade isn’t just available for PCs; tablets and smartphones running on Windows will be able to make the change as well, so transferring files and applications between devices will be a thing of ease. Now that support has ended for XP, this may actually attract PC users with older hardware to purchase Windows 10 as well. Since the newest OS version can operate on significantly less RAM and more efficiently than XP, there is still room for Microsoft to make a profit.
PCs are becoming smaller and cheaper, Microsoft really doesn’t have to depend on consumers purchasing operating system upgrades to prosper. With inexpensive PC options like Windows version of Intel’s Compute Stick that retails for a mere $149, the increase in unit sales could potentially far outweigh the profits made from OS upgrades and installations made in the past. There is still, however, another way for Microsoft to turn a profit off of Windows 10; the free upgrade will only be available for one year, so those who decide to delay switching to the newest OS will have to pay to do so.