I’ve seen a couple opinions, and I’ve decided to weigh in…
Like its predecessor, Windows Blue, Windows Threshold is in the process of entering its full development cycle. As with Blue, many people are excited about Threshold and for a couple of key reasons. Briefly, they are:
- Consumers don’t think much of Windows 8
There are a lot of diehard Windows users that really are NOT happy with Windows 8. Windows 8.1 is a step in the right direction with the ability to boot directly to the desktop and the return of the Start BUTTON. However, many people will tell you that the improvements seen in Windows 8.1 are a start (no pun intended) and not a destination. Microsoft still has a long way to go before they regain the public trust and earns their forgiveness.And they’ve earned this disdain, too. Microsoft mucked with, and moved everyone’s cheese and really brought productivity way low, and killed many IT upgrade plans. Windows 8.x really takes too long for office workers to figure out how to use. Its ModernUI (unofficially called MetroUI) confuses a lot of people, even on Microsoft’s own Surface line of ultrabooks. If Microsoft can’t sell the new interface on their OWN devices, relying on partner devices to do it, doesn’t look to be a winning strategy. This older business model is proving to be part of Microsoft’s downfall, and they seem to know it. Their July 2013 reorg definitely identifies the older management structure and mode of doing business as something that needs to change.In short, MS needs to get its revised vision on as many Windows 8.x devices as it can in order to help generate positive press so it can “turn that frown upside down,” and reverse what appears to be the start of a steep decline.
- Microsoft and Windows 8 have no place to go but up
Windows 8.x adoption sucks. Windows 7 adoption rates are on the rise. Microsoft desktop OS sales aren’t too horrible, but when it look at it in a Windows 7 vs. Windows 8.x perspective, it’s clear that the public doesn’t like the OS or the devices that it comes on.Prior to the Christmas Shopping Season, Microsoft was still feeling the effects of its $900M Surface RT write-off. Sales of Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro weren’t strong at all. However, something happened over the 2013 Holidays that directed many users to not only look long and hard at Surface 2/Pro, but had the devices moving off the shelves as well.Microsoft needs to do whatever it needs to do to continue this positive trend. If they don’t, the company is going to have some serious work to do regarding not only Windows, but the rest of its product offerings.
Given that they have work to do, AND given that most Linux distributions have been free for years, and that Apple gave Mavericks away (and it runs on Macs that are at LEAST 5 years old); Microsoft needs to do the same thing with Windows Threshold. They need to give it away, and it needs to run on any computer that can push Windows 7. This accomplishes a couple things:
- If it’s free, it’s for me – Low to no cost upgrade fees
“If it’s free, it’s for me!” I knew a guy in college who had that printed on his checks; and it’s pretty much a way of life for many people. If they can figure out an easy way to get something for free, you can bet that they’ll bust their behinds to make that happen.Much of the computing public still sees a great deal of value in the Windows brand. If they can get that level of value on their existing PC, for free, with all future platform updates and upgrades also coming in at no cost, then the platform has a better chance of actually getting on legacy machines than not. I may be in the minority opinion, but I really think that if Microsoft wants to remain competitive, as well as make a successful transition to a devices and services organization, it’s going to need to give the platform that powers those devices and drives those services, away.
- Increase <Latest Version > Adoption Rates
Recent Windows 7 adoption rates have surged past Windows 8.x adoption rates. This means that people who are actually buying Windows compatible PC’s aren’t buying them with Windows 8.x on them, they’re buying them with (or downgrading to) Windows 7. Microsoft doesn’t want Windows 7 to turn into the 2010’s version of the 2000’s Windows XP. The last thing that Microsoft wants to do with Windows 8.x is have it be the “next Vista” where everyone sticks with the older version. They undid much of the damage to the Windows brand with the release of Windows 7, but shot themselves in the foot with Windows 8 (and have effectively gone backwards).The company has a new strategic direction. What better way to foster that, than to give the platform away to end users?
- Continues and fosters its new direction as a Devices and Services organization
The old guard organization where both Office and Windows are cash cows that provide years, if not decades, of revenue is over. As I stated recently, the old Microsoft has died and most of the management team from that regime has been moved to other areas or has left the company. Microsoft’s new organizational focus, its new product portfolio is the whole Windows experience and not Windows itself. That means that it has to sell the devices and it has to sell the services that make the Windows platform a value-add. That’s where MS will make its money going forward. The best way to insure that is to give the platform away, making adoption for many an autonomic option.
Microsoft is in full transition mode. They’ve reorged the company and most of the old management team is gone. They are getting a new CEO in early 2014. They are changing not only how the company does business, but they’re changing their product portfolio as well. They need to embrace the change and “unlearn what they have learned” over the past 25+ years of computing success. If they don’t, Microsoft’s relevancy as well as profit margins will decline as PC adoption rates decline. The best way Microsoft can move forward is to give away not only Windows, but Office as well. They need to start doing that with Windows Threshold. How they figure out the best way to do it with Office – if at all – is something they will have to figure out as the release date for the next version of Office starts to appear on the horizon.
What do you think? Do you think Microsoft should give the next version of Windows away? Why don’t join us in the discussion area, below and tell us what YOU think?