Let’s put things in perspective first: Migration from iOS 8 to iOS 9 is off the charts. As this article was written, Mixpanel Trends had it at over 55% and growing just 15 days after it was released. It helps that Apple has made it as easy as possible to upgrade by supporting the same hardware as iOS 8. In addition, the iOS 9 installation requires far less free storage than its predecessor, so the bottlenecks afflicting the previous version have mostly been eliminated.
On Wednesday, Apple released OS X El Capitan, free and supporting the same Macs as the two previous versions. While it’s too early to know how popular it’ll be, the early buzz is promising. It’s not about the wealth of compelling new features, but adding spit and polish that will make for a satisfactory upgrade for most of you.
But that takes us to the other side of the OS universe, Microsoft. On July 29th, Microsoft released Windows 10 as a free upgrade for people using Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Indeed, to the chagrin of some, Microsoft even pushed installer files in the background to many PCs, so users could begin a fairly quick installation as soon as they were ready. Of course you wonder about the morality of a stunt of that sort. While it may be true that these people already reserved their free upgrade, grabbing ahold of several gigabytes of free space on someone’s PC without their permission doesn’t sound terribly nice, and how does it show respect for their privacy?
I’m also concerned that there aren’t more complaints about this stunt. One article I read about the migration rate merely mentioned the fact of unwanted downloads in passing. Have we really fallen that far when it comes to privacy concerns?
But considering how simple it is to get a copy, just how well is Windows 10 doing? Well, it certainly started out well. In August, after a month’s availability, NetMarketShare reported that the migration rate went from 0.39 percent — consisting of beta testers — to 5.21 percent. That was sufficient to exceed the current share of Windows 8. Microsoft boasted of 75 million downloads. Everything was coming up roses.
Except that the shine appears to be fading. The web metrics for September indicate that Windows 10’s share only climbed another 1.42 percent. Not so good. While such stats aren’t necessarily perfect, there are some curious developments. So the share of Windows 8 increased from 2.56 percent to 2.60 percent, but Windows 8.1 fell by 0.67 percentage points. This may have, in part, been the result of statistical noise.
Regardless, the slowing migration rate doesn’t seem to bode well for Windows 10 now that the early adopters have upgraded. However, it is still expected that Windows 10 will slide past Windows 8.x by January, but perhaps just barely.
Windows 7’s share dropped 1.14 percentage points to 56.53%. Curiously, Windows XP diehards aren’t going anywhere. The share increased a tad in September from 12.14 percent to 12.21 percent. Indeed, I still run into businesses that are stuck on Windows XP, and I’ve grown too exhausted to question them as to why. I expect that the numbers won’t change significantly for years, despite issues of compatibility and security. Or maybe Windows XP users are not the major targets for malware authors that they used to be.
What’s most troubling, however, is the fact that Microsoft, as usual, still cannot devise an ad campaign that conveys the real value of Windows 10. Evidently they have watched just too many Apple ads focusing on lifestyle and have browbeaten the ad agencies to conform. I cannot imagine how this is the best way to promote Windows 10. Hint: It’s not about watching kids draw annotations on a web page in the Edge browser on a convertible PC. That’s not Microsoft’s target audience.
Indeed, just showing a decent-looking operating system with a fully functioning Start menu may actually be enough to entice people who ignored Windows 8.x like the plague to upgrade. The fact that it’s free for many users surely helps. It also helps that its best features are the ones that take it closer in concept to Windows 7. Had Microsoft gone direct to what became Windows 10 — without the Windows 8 detour — things might have gone much better.
Yes, there’s a story to tell here about a solid operating system that has a decent mix of features and is solace for anyone who got stuck with Windows 8.x. But Microsoft doesn’t seem to understand how to get the message across, and there’s no foolishly warm and fuzzy solution.
Even assuming the worst of the early bugs have been eradicated in all the updates that followed the release of Windows 10, that doesn’t mean businesses will be flocking to install it. There are still matters of compatibility with existing apps and hardware, and whether businesses, most of whom stuck with Windows 7, will find it worth the bother to upgrade. It may take a couple of years for a meaningful migration and, considering all those Windows XP holdouts, maybe it won’t be significant.
I mean is there anything really wrong with Windows 7 that makes Windows 10 an essential upgrade for the enterprise? That’s a question Microsoft will have to answer, and the promise of Universal apps and identical operating systems for mobile and desktop doesn’t seem enough to sway large numbers of Windows users.
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