Something for Microsoft to Consider about the Future of Windows

Friday, June 17, 2011

Microsoft will continue to try to get pirates to buy Windows for its full $299 price tag by strengthening the activation system that seems to be susceptible to cracking. However, if Microsoft made the effort to reduce prices to a more reasonable level, not only would they defeat piracy, they would turn many Windows users who are skeptical about upgrading into the first set of people on board. Apple recently announced that its newest version of Mac OS X would ship for $29.99 again. Meanwhile, Microsoft has 6 versions of its Windows, each varying in usability and price.

People who buy software want to get the most out of their operating system. The cheapest version of Windows 7 that is offered to North American clients is Home Premium for $129.99 if you buy the upgrade version, $224.99 if you buy the fresh disk. For $279.99, a user can get the Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade disk, something that the fresh disk would require $349.99. Windows 7 Ultimate is the most feature filled operating system of the fleet.

All these versions can be confusing for clients but presents a pay more get more infrastructure where Home Premium gives you the bare minimum and Ultimate gives you the bare maximum.


By bare minimum, compatibility with Windows XP using XP mode isn’t available for Home Premium at all. Nor are back up tools. Nor is BitLocker, a drive encryption tool for Windows. Switching Languages is not optional either. This will cost you $129.99 minimum and will require you to have Vista installed prior to your upgrade. As for the full edition for $249.99, it will allow you to upgrade from Windows XP.

Note that the upgrade editions, which add another three to the list above, cannot be booted off of and require a genuine Windows Vista installation to be able to make the upgrade since Windows XP users need to upgrade by using a clean install which requires a boot off the disk.

To add the growing list, Mac OS X Snow Leopard was sold for $29.99 and had drive encryption, backward compatibility, and Time Machine – back up tool – out of the box.

Perhaps it is time for Windows to make one version of the operating system and not give the split the install disk into upgrade and clean install categories. Give users all the features to play with at once, don’t make them empty their pockets for it. Windows can cost less. Running on 90% of computers in the market, one would doubt that Microsoft has the capacity to lower their prices and maybe even close the Mac vs. PC debate by offering premium services for the same low price structure that Apple has now started to adapt – note that Apple’s pricing is still brutal when it comes to getting the first Mac though.

To get to the point, Microsoft, if you want to crack down on piracy and if you want to encourage your loyal followers – which there are – to follow Windows in its progression in time, it is time that you make Windows a one version (no more options, no more technical confusion between upgrade and full install discs) and one priced system. It is time that the price goes below $100 for everybody so that everyone can afford to upgrade and feels less anxious if things don’t go smoothly… we remember Vista. Once a low priced sole Windows DVD is on the market, Windows users will embrace it and maybe, just maybe, the pirates that you spend hours making the activation system harder for will opt to buy an affordable operating system that gives them all of the benefits that they wouldn’t get from a pirated version.

And Microsoft, you should do the same with Office…

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