Several months ago, Microsoft offered millions of users of Windows 7 and 8.1 a free online update to the then newly released Windows 10. While Microsoft has claimed that as many as 110 million Windows 7 and 8.1 users did accept the free offer to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft has also expressed some concern that as many as a billion other Windows 7 and 8.1 users have not yet upgraded to Windows 10. According to several published reports, Microsoft has expressed concerns that the rate of Windows users upgrading from the older versions of Windows to Windows 10 has slowed, and this decline in the rate of people upgrading to Windows 10 may cost Microsoft substantial potential revenues.
According to an article published on ZDnet in November (zdnet.com/article/windows-10-growth-sluggish-as-windows-7-windows-8-users-stick-with-their-os), the results of upgrades to Windows 10 during the month of October had slowed compared to previous months. Despite heavy promotions and the springtime appearance of the “Get Windows 10” icon in the system tray of countless Windows computers running Windows 7 or 8.1, the rate of increase in Windows 10 usage has slowed. In October (2015), the number of PCs running Windows 10 was a paltry 7.94%, up 1.31% from the 6.63% rate tallied the month before (September). In September the rate of Windows 10 upgrades was 1.42%, slighter greater than the following month of October, documenting that the rate of increase of Windows 10 upgrades has been slowing. Microsoft has not been as successful as they had hoped in getting people to upgrade their PCs from earlier versions of Windows to Windows 10, as the proportion of desktop PCs running Windows 7 in October was well over half at 55.71%. In the first week of December, 2015, according to the website NetMarketShare.com, considering the early holiday sales of PCs, the rate of desktop PCs running Windows 7 increased slightly to 56.11%, and the number of PCs running Windows 10 was up to 9%, but this 9% number includes both PCs upgraded from earlier versions of Windows as well as the sales of new PCs with Windows 10 factory installed. Despite the lamentations expressed by many of the users of Windows 8.1 about the foibles of that operating system, Windows 8.1 users have apparently not flocked to Windows 10 to the degree that Microsoft has apparently wanted. According to the article on ZDnet, referencing the October figures, “Windows 8 and 8.1 users just aren’t migrating at all (cumulative the usage share for this OS is at 13.22 percent, down only 0.10 of a percentage point).”
Despite the pronounced efforts of Microsoft to get users of Windows 7 and 8.1 to take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10, there is still significant resistance in the PC community to the upgrade. While some users of earlier versions of Windows are inherently resistant to change, being relatively happy with the current functionality and performance of Windows 7 on their computers. ZDnet and other online publications have expressed mixed results with PCs upgraded from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10, an attitude common among individual users who have performed the upgrade. It is also useful to note that an unknown but probably sizeable number of users who did indeed download the Windows 10 upgrade who went on to perform the upgrade decided to go back to Windows 7 or 8 taking advantage of a little known feature of the Windows 10 upgrade process that allows users to roll back their Windows 10 upgrade to their earlier operating system, and option only available to upgraders for a finite number of days, typically 31 days, after the upgrade. The rollback can be accomplished by clicking on the Start button, then Settings, “Update and Security”, and finally “Recovery and Uninstall Windows 10”. If all works as it should, the PC should be restored to its prior operating system.
Earlier this fall, in September, ZDnet published an item, “My biggest problem with Windows 10: Instability”, by Mary Jo Foley (zdnet.com/article/my-biggest-problem-with-windows-10-stability). In this article, Ms. Foley summarized her Windows 10 experience as, “Windows 10’s strength — its comprehensiveness — is also its biggest weakness. Too many moving parts are making for an unstable computing experience for me.” While many users were delighted with Windows 10 after their upgrade, this article reflects the results and frustrations that many individual users experienced following the upgrade to Windows 10.
Microsoft has been well aware of the concerns expressed by many Windows 7 and 8 users over such factors as boot time, privacy, reliability, speed, complexity, and other issues which discouraged users from upgrading to Windows 10 (zdnet.com/article/dont-let-the-grinches-put-you-off-windows-10). To help overcome these objections by millions of users who have not taken advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10, as well as to address issues of performance and other concerns of Windows 10 users, Microsoft recently released a major upgrade to Windows 10. In a recent article in TechRepublic, dated November 12, and written by NIck Heath, “Massive Windows 10 update could turbo charge Windows 7 machines says Microsoft. The first major update to Windows 10 hits today – with Microsoft promising great things for those upgrading from Windows 7, as well as significant new features for business users.” (techrepublic.com/article/massive-windows-10-update-could-turbo-charge-windows-7-machines-says-microsoft).
This new update to Windows 10 is a huge download of slightly less than 4GB, and is claimed by Microsoft to speed up the PCs’ boot time by up to 30%, making Windows 10 boot faster than the Windows 7 which had previously been running on the same machine. According to Jeremy Korst, general manager of the Windows and Devices team at Microsoft, “There’s a bunch of things under the hood that we’ve improved with this update to make it an even better experience.” Microsoft has indicated a desire that the improved features, performance, compatibility, and stability of the upgraded Windows 10 will help convince Windows users who have not yet upgraded to Windows 10. Microsoft has planned some strong encouragement for those users, because in early 2016, Microsoft will start to “push” the upgrades of Windows 10 to PCs still running Windows 7 and 8.1.
Starting in 2016 (the exact official date has not yet been published, but a variety of commencement dates have been suggested), Windows 7 and 8.1 will automatically begin installing the upgraded Windows 10 after a user confirmation during the conventional Windows update process. According to Jeremy Korst, “(T)he customer will have the ability to delay it for some period”, that “period” being unspecified. As with the previous, more voluntary upgrades, the user may be able to restore his prior operating system within 31 days of installing the free upgrade to Windows 10. Jeremy Korst continued, “We’ll be taking customer feedback throughout this process and the intent really is to make the upgrade even easier for customers.” This corroborates an earlier article (October 30) by Nick Heath in TechRepublic (techrepublic.com/article/five-ways-microsoft-plans-to-get-you-to-upgrade-to-windows-10). This article, “Five ways Microsoft plans to get you to upgrade to Windows 10” explains that Microsoft, “(In order) To achieve its goal of getting one billion people onto Windows 10, Microsoft is getting more forceful in how it pushes Windows 7 and 8.1 users towards its new OS.” Primarily this will occur when Windows 10 automatically begins installing itself as a “Recommended Update”, which means that the majority of Windows users who have the default “Install Updates Automatically” setting will transparently have Windows 10 installed. Microsoft has stated that users will need to confirm the installation before it begins, but it is well known that most users blindly “OK” Microsoft’s recommendations. Being aware that many internet users have metered or limited access, Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive VP of the Windows and Devices Group, says that “(Users) have the option of turning off automatic updates” but does not recommend that they do turn off automatic updates due to, ” … the constant risk of internet threats”. Microsoft will also make it easier for those who want to initiate the upgrade to Windows 10, rather than wait for the updates that will be pushed to them; the “Get Windows 10” icon in the system tray will soon get an “Upgrade Now” option, which will immediately start to download the huge upgrade file, and commence the upgrade process. For those who may have multiple PCs which they would like upgraded to Windows 10, will shortly find that the process has been made much easier. Microsoft has released its “Media Creation Tool” which can create an image file that can be installed to a USB flash drive or a DVD disc, and then used to upgrade multiple machines without having to download the huge file to each of the PCs. This “new and improved” single image file will be able to upgrade PCs to an appropriate flavor of Windows 10, including 32 and 64 bit versions, as well as the Home or Professional versions of Windows 10, all from that single image file. This image file can also be used for a “clean install” of Windows 10 provided the user has a valid Windows license.
The new year 2016 will be an interesting one for Windows PC users still using Windows 7 or 8.1. I expect some users to be happy with the new, somewhat “forced” upgrades to Windows 10, while many others to complain loudly. Happy new year, Windows users.