Microsoft recently made available for download its newest operating system, Windows 10. For many users who are using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, the upgrade is free of charge. While downloading this free software, it may occur to you that a large company giving away their product for free to tens of millions users, seemingly doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The business world is curious how potential and current investors are going to take this strategy. So why would they take the mega financial risk to push this software to so many devices?
Exposure Builds Opportunities
The curious strategy to give away upgrades for free is based mainly in their need for a higher degree of exposure for their software. Microsoft has taken many hits over the years due to their lack of a dedicated mobile strategy. Despite being innovators in the use of “smartphone” technology, Microsoft software only has a menial 3.0-percent share (Q1 2015) of the current mobile market. The question becomes, how is a strategy that’s built upon providing OS upgrades on machines that aren’t their true target going to help the company make money?
It’s all about exposing as many users to a single interface as possible. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated his intention for the Windows 10 interface is to be on over one billion devices. This includes PCs, tablets, smartphones, and the Xbox One home entertainment console. To get that many devices working on the software, it will have to be an option that people consider useful. Software that is compatible throughout multiple platforms will enhance the offering completely; providing a static computing interface that users can easily maneuver around and through, all the while building a viable computing option for every serious consumer.
Not a Total Wash
Microsoft will be able to gain revenue from Windows 10 by relying on new software implementations, so offering free upgrades is not an entire loss. It is, however, sure to bring many millions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users a great deal of value due to the combination of cost (included in their legacy OS purchase) and the useful new interface that most users have been raving about. In fact, supporters of the software are projecting that Windows 10 is the best piece of software that the company has released in quite some time.
The day after release the NASDAQ price of Microsoft stock gained 2.6%. If a rising stock price is an indication of the success of their free platform upgrade, they may not be irrelevant in mobile just yet. It will certainly have to release phones that are comparable with other manufacturer’s flagship devices, as well as more modest devices designed to fit the average user’s budget. If the interface, as promised, is actually static between the different computing platforms, you may see other manufacturers, who rejected using the Windows Phone OS, revisit their strategy based purely on user demand. In many ways it is an ironic turn of events for the world’s largest software company: they don’t have a tangible foothold in the mobile market, but, with the release of Windows 10, may be in the best position of any of the major players to see substantial multi-platform growth.