For those who know the answer, they get irritated every time it is asked. That’s understandable, it comes up a lot. But for those who don’t know it isn’t their fault, the blame lies squarely on Microsoft for some dreadful wording and a lack of transparency which it still hasn’t sorted out.
So let’s do that now…
Enough Bad LanguageIt isn’t hard to see where the problem lies. Below is a grab of the ‘free’ pricing on the official Windows 10 homepage as well as the small print which accompanies it and nothing is clear about what happens after one year: limited trial? Compulsory subscription? Something worse?
The most maddening part is the reality is actually great news: upgrade to Windows 10 within the first year and it is free… forever. Really Microsoft, that’s not hard to spell out.
Perhaps the best effort we have had from an official company spokesperson so far is in a blog post by Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Operating Systems. In it he states:
“We announced that a free upgrade for Windows 10 will be made available to customers running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 who upgrade in the first year after launch. This is more than a one-time upgrade: once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no cost.”
That’s ok, but it’s verbose and buried in a blog. So may I suggest to Microsoft it simply put this direction on the Windows 10 front page itself:
‘Upgrade to Windows 10 within the first year and it is yours free, forever. No subscriptions, no additional costs.’
The Subscription MythAnd yet, despite all this, the myth that Windows 10 will eventually add a subscription cost for free upgraders perpetuates. Why? Partly because people are rightly cynical about something that looks too good to be true. But also again due to bungled Microsoft messaging.
On multiple occasions this year Microsoft has come out and said it sees itself as a services company moving forward and that it views Windows long term as a subscription service, not a buy once platform as it has been up to now.
Rightly or wrongly, this is Microsoft’s decision (personally I understand it) but to put out such messages just before a supposedly ‘free’ Windows 10 release only causes suspicion and doubt. In fact it is these attitudes which have become so ingrained in many that they will read this post and still think Microsoft has a Windows 10 subscription plan lined up for them.
And again this stance is understandable, because many vital Windows 10 upgrade questions still mysteriously remain unanswered…
The Unanswered QuestionsSo why are people so suspicious about the ‘free’ promise? Again because Microsoft has not helped itself by remaining silent over key questions. Namely:
- Do free Windows 10 upgraders get a licence key?
- How much of your PC can be upgraded before Windows 10 thinks you have a new PC and asks you to pay?
- Can ineligible users simply buy a cheap edition of Windows 7 Starter and use it to get a free copy of Windows 10?
- Why were Windows Vista and Windows XP users left out? (this baffles me)
- Will a Windows 10 subscription model exist in future for those who miss the free upgrade window?
- Will Windows 10 charge for any updates or upgrades to the system that add major new features or functionality?
- Windows 10 free upgrades will be full, standalone copies
- Windows 10 downloads can be attained as ISOs and burnt to physical media
- Windows 10 can be reinstalled unlimited times on the same PC, if anything goes wrong
- All of which means that we are left with a situation where yes, it is understandable if you are confused about what happened ‘after a year’ and yes, it is understandable if you’re still cynical about the whole thing.
- Microsoft has been on a role, and Windows 10 is looking like one of the great Windows releases, but the marketing of what should be a truly great offer has been a mess. And that’s before we even reveal the bad news that not all Windows 7 and Windows 8 users get it free. Yes, here we go again…