Should Microsoft Start Releasing New Windows Versions Yearly?

SurfaceThe current buzz spreading throughout Silicon Valley surrounds Windows Blue, an initiative by Microsoft to deliver a low-cost update to Windows that users can purchase at a much lower price than previous Windows versions. In theory, this sounds like a terrific idea as it would finally put Windows back in a competitive stance against OS X in terms of price and update consistency.

If Windows were to start being updated on a yearly basis, would you consider that a pro or a con for the average Windows user?

There are a handful of reasons I might buy into it as being an excellent idea, though it would also be very easy for Microsoft to take its eyes off the ball and lose that very essential enterprise market it has been holding on to so closely.

Here are some ways I believe a less-expensive yearly Windows update would be a benefit to users.

  • Microsoft could keep up with the most current trends and user demands
  • The barrier of entry for new users would be lower
  • Faster pivoting around dissatisfying major updates (example: Vista)
  • Improved social integration (new networks integrated faster)
  • A Lower price would lessen opposition based on cost
  • Faster global user adoption

Based on the successes of the $29 OS X update model, a cheaper Windows update would be more likely to receive faster customer adoption as the costs would fall well within the acceptable range for its users. At $29, it’s hard to find someone who would find that price outlandish. At $40-99, it’s far more likely that users would push back on updating until they absolutely had to.

What does concern me is the idea that enterprise customers would find the annual updates a bit too quick to follow. Remember, a lot of enterprises are still running Windows XP. Windows 7 only just started to be embraced by corporations when Windows 8 came out. I’m not convinced (despite Microsoft’s insisting that Windows 8 is good for enterprise) that the corporate would willingly embrace Windows 8 for at least another two years. By then, the next edition of Windows will undoubtedly be out (if not two should Windows Blue become a reality).

Another downside comes by way of what annual updates mean to the user. In previous Windows versions, features would be added by way of a free update to major releases. Service Packs are essentially free upgrades offered by Microsoft to its users in lieu of an annual release. You don’t have to pay for them, and you get to take advantage of additional features as they are added. As with OS X, most of the minor adjustments to the user experience happens by way of its almost-annual major release. This comes at a cost, even if it is smaller than you would pay for a traditional Windows release.

So what do you think? Would you look forward to annual Windows releases if the cost were kept down to that sweet spot around $29?

Photo: Ryan Matthew Pierson

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Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • Dane Reynolds

    I like how Microsoft has become better this past year or two. They seem to be spreading there wings, for example building there own hardware i.e surface and possibly the surface phone. Now it’s windows ‘blue’ it seems like Microsoft is challenging the IOS market, and I love a little competition.

  • http://techdoozie.com Chance

    I think that would be a bad decision for Microsoft. They get to put a lot of time and effort into their software, well…. except Vista and Millennium. :)

  • gpowerf

    Interesting question, Windows upgrades are already quite cheap, 43 quid last time I checked. But you are talking about virtually pocket money upgrades, the sort of thing people just spend without thinking. 
     
    It is an interesting option, if Windows upgrades had been cheaper I don’t think we would still so many copies of XP running. Well, except in enterprise where IT departments would probably hold things back just the same.
     
    From an end user perspective, it all depends. On my “fun” machines, yeah I’d probably upgrade ASAP. But on work machines I’d take a more cautions approach, I’d fit it into my work schedule and research things a bit more carefully. 
     
    There’s something to be said for stability, quite often I find myself running an LTS version of Ubuntu rather than the very latest one. It makes sense, upgrading is fun, but it gets in the way of other things too :) 
     
    I personally wouldn’t bother thinking about the OS X pricing too much, it is totally inconsequential to the average Windows user as it simply isn’t an option. Unlike you I don’t necessarily think $40 is too much, provided the distribution is seamless and purely on-line based at the touch of a button.

  • Guest

    I say its a con for them because they wouldn’t have enough time to think about the new features I like change I hate windows 8 but I’m getting it on my non-touch desktop for one reason change. Now if Microsoft made new windows versions each year then windows will just go kaput because no real new features will be implemented and what would it look and feel like even worse than windows 8 so that’s why I would prefer if Microsoft kept their current release schedule every 3 years or so because they have more time to think things through.