Microsoft Wraps Its Windows 10 Pitch, Here’s What You Need To Know

Microsoft announced today that Windows 10 will be available on July 29. The date matches prior leaks and promises from the company regarding when the new operating system will touch down. The release schedule also puts Windows 10 into the market before the back-to-school PC sales cycle, and, of course, the holiday season.

The software company is, in other words, putting itself in as good a spot as it can be to get Windows 10 into the hands of as many PC buyers as possible. The company also announced a ‘reserve‘ program that allows people to sign up, in a sense, for Windows 10. The new code, of course, will be a free upgrade for most PC users.

This supports Microsoft’s goal to have 1 billion Windows 10 machines in the wild in the next two to three years.

Are you going to run the new code? What will it cost? How can you sign up to get the new operating system? Let’s take a look.

Get It?

You can get Windows 10 now, for free, if you want to install a preview build. Presuming that you don’t want to use buggy pre-release software, head here instead, and register for a note from Microsoft alerting you when Windows 10 is ready. That should be July 29, provided that Redmond doesn’t bork its own launch party.

Buy It?

You probably don’t have to buy Windows 10. Most folks — Windows 7 and 8.1 users, etc. — are eligible for a free upgrade to the operating system. Again, Microsoft wants to grow the Windows 10 user base as fast as possible. Charging would be frictive.

If you do have to buy the code, it will cost you $119 for the consumer version, and $199 for the professional edition. Those prices, as CNET notes, are similar to what Microsoft charged for Windows 8.

There appears to be a single-year timeframe to get a free upgrade. I presume that the artificial deadline is in place to help convince people to get onto Windows 10 sooner rather than later. The more Window 10 users, the quicker, the better for Microsoft.

Should You Use It?

Unless you have a very specific reason not to, and are a Windows user, you probably should. Speaking from personal experience with the software, I can say that I’ll be sticking with it on my main home machine. However, Windows 10 remains more potential than polish at the moment, and I’m not the only armchair-QA-er who is worried that the July 29 date won’t give Microsoft enough time to kill all the bugs.

Microsoft has built Windows 10 mostly in the public view, shipping builds quickly, and directly answering feedback with fixes in subsequent releases. But the operating system, for all its promise, remains distinctly not done. Again, not from a feature perspective, but from a bug perspective.

Large Companies?

That’s the consumer perspective, of course. For the enterprise side of things, I asked our own Ron Miller to explain the view that larger corporations are taking on the new operating system:

Enterprise IT departments tend to move slowly when it comes to operating system upgrades and it’s unlikely that most will go rushing out for this one, even with clear incentive to do so.  First of all, you don’t have to pay for it if you own a valid previous version, but even that won’t mean that most companies will rush out to get it. Enterprises tend to move cautiously and if it ain’t broke, there is no reason to upgrade it.

Companies usually have lots of custom code tied to Windows and upgrading risks breaking all of those delicate connections. They also tend to use a lot of older software, and even if Microsoft is giving the OS to them, they aren’t picking up the bill for all the other software they’ll need to upgrade.

Nor are they paying for training the new employees on the new system. There are a myriad of costs associated with upgrading an operating system, and the cost of the system itself is in fact a small part of that.

But Windows 10 promises a unified platform and that’s a huge incentive. Microsoft is betting the proverbial farm that enterprise developers looking for an easier way to develop mobile apps on the Windows platform will find this very attractive, especially when they can code once and apply it across a variety of screen sizes.

It may come to pass too, but probably not for some time. Most IT departments will note the change, maybe start some experimental projects and tread very slowly and deliberately before making the switch. It’s just the nature of the process inside large companies.

So, there’s that.

Final Days

July 29 is 58 days away, given Microsoft less than two months to land this particular plane. When Windows 10 was even more raw, I wrote the following:

Microsoft’s Windows 10 must patch the consumer-facing flaws present in Windows 8.x, and also bring enterprise customers into the modern era of computing. Couple that to the larger Windows trend of platform unification that Windows 10 will be the apparent culmination of, and you have what must be one of the most audacious software projects ever attempted.

That’s not to say that Microsoft will pull it off, but I like their guts.

It’s now a question of execution. Microsoft has built an attractive package of updates, upgrades, and fixes into Windows 10 that were sorely lacking in Windows 8.

Call it The Race To 1 Billion Machines. Perhaps Microsoft can rent a billboard along the 101 and have a live-count. Shit, I’m in for $5.