At the end of last week, ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley posted a story on the upcoming next major Windows release, code-named Threshold, often called Windows 9. She slipped an interesting remark right past me therein, called into sharp relief by a follow-up story I read this morning on Gidgets.com. Here’s a paragraph from MJF’s story that lays out an interesting hypothetical situation surrounding that upcoming release:
The Microsoft OS team is hoping to get as many Windows 7 users moved to Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 8 users to Windows 8.1 Update in preparation for (hopefully) getting them to move to Threshold once it is out. It’s still early in the Windows development cycle for Microsoft to have decided on packaging, pricing and distribution, but my sources say, at this point, that Windows Threshold is looking like it could be free to all Windows 8.1 Update, and maybe even Windows 7 Service Pack 1, users.
Here’s one cut at a logo for the next generation of Windows for the desktop (Windows 9 Logo Wallpaper).
This certainly poses one interesting and compelling way for Microsoft to stimulate wholesale upgrades to Windows 9 for a large majority of users. With Windows 7 SP1 now representing over 50% of the installed Windows based, and Windows 8.* versions accounting for roughly 12% or so of what’s left over, this could provide a straightforward way to achieve critical mass for the next major Windows release. Certainly, Apple experienced higher conversion rates when they stopped charging for major releases of OS X, so there’s no reason to expect that Windows behavior would differ significantly. That said, a great many more enterprise desktops, notebooks, tablets, and so forth run Windows than MacOS, and we all understand that even if it’s cheap for such organizations to migrate, there are many other factors (and a great deal more time, effort, and expense) involved in making wholesale migrations at the large end of the scale.
This is undoubtedly an interesting hypothetical to consider, and possibly even a positive inducement for some parties to make the move up to Windows 9 from earlier versions. But from an enterprise perspective, it is only one small consideration among a host of others that can’t help but involve significant time, effort, and expense in planning and implementing an OS migration. I’d have to guess that a free upgrade wouldn’t impact corporate and large organization lifecycle planning much, if at all. It should be interesting to keep an eye on this, and to see what it morphs into in the months ahead. If other rumors about Windows 9 have any merit, we should be hearing more about the new OS later this year, and witness the developer and consumer preview releases late in 2014 and early 2015 respectively, with a GA release about a year from now. There is still plenty of time for things to change and for rumors to coalesce into actual, announced plans and releases. Stay tuned!