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Is Windows 10 paying off?

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This is a summary of a presentation I carried out to the ICT@50 group last weekend. I salute and was inspired by this group of keen, enthusiastic and committed IT professionals in Malawi, seeking to bring IT to the forefront of the country’s development. The discussion sought to compare the four most used operating systems (OS) available currently to consumers.

As everyone knows, in July 2015 Microsoft made the radical step of offering the Windows 10 (Win10) upgrade free to all legal users of their OS. To date over 110 million downloads have occurred and Microsoft is looking to have 1 billion Win10 devices in use by 2018. What is the strategy behind this dramatic conversion of Windows as a service versus Windows as a product? Looking at current market trends and advancing technology can help us understand this better.

Firstly, the widespread access to the internet has led to the situation where consumers are starting to drive IT usage and expenditure. PC sales dropped almost 10% earlier this year, and the sale of smartphones is growing to reach almost 2 billion by year end. Microsoft, despite owning Nokia – currently only has 3% of the smartphone market.

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Google, with its Android OS and phones, and Apple, with its sexy, but expensive, devices are dominating these sales and growing exponentially. Google raises its revenues through advertising via its services and devices. Apple does this by tethering its OS to its own devices. The one thing both of these companies have in common is that they have spent a lot of money in research assessing what exactly consumers want from their devices and try to meet this need. In my opinion – apart from users purchasing due to the “status” factor – the majority of consumers do not really care what OS their device is running as long as it allows them to do what they want easily and intuitively. This usually means social communication and the sharing of data – notably video, music and images, as well as being able to deal with any workload. Version upgrades and updates have a high irritation factor.

Although 90% of PCs worldwide run Microsoft OS – they are fragmented – with Win7, 8, 10 and even XP still in use. This makes it very difficult for Microsoft to roll out and support new applications across the board.

Microsoft has recognized that it needs to consolidate its operating systems and grow its user base. How? Win10 is the answer. Win10 is just not another version of an OS – it has been drastically re-engineered to focus and capitalise on the changing market. The advent of cloud services and the Internet of Things (IOT) are top of their priority list. To prepare for these, Win10 has been redesigned to be able to be used on low powered processors such as the ATOM and Raspberry Pi. This enables Microsoft to be offer a stable platform across the board for the development of device to device communication through the IOT.

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Microsoft’s Universal Apps approach, enables Win10 to be run on the full range of mobile devices available – from smartphones and tablets, to laptops and PCs. More importantly – the Win10 interface can be synchronised across all devices – therefore your desktop, shortcuts, favourites and appearance of your account, will also be replicated on your smartphone when you use it. This is – by far – one of the most attractive features of Win10.

Combined with that are a whole raft of new offerings – that space does not allow me to describe further. But I would strongly recommend that you download your free upgrade and look at functions such as the new browser, Edge, the biometric functionality available through Hello, One Drive (providing up to 1TB of cloud storage for each user) and Microsoft Store.

I believe Win10 is the right way forward and offers something to all business and personal consumers, as well as developers globally. This may be the time to “hitch your wagon to a star”.

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