Microsoft revealed the date this week when it plans to start collecting on its bets. As of October 26--the official release date for Windows 8--all the cards will be on the table, and we will see if the gamble will pay off or not.
What gamble? Microsoft has a lot riding on Windows 8.
Internet Explorer 9 only works with Windows Vista and Windows 7. Its successor--Internet Explorer 10--will only work with Windows 7 and Windows 8. The next generation of the Microsoft Office productivity suite is also limited to Windows 7 and Windows 8. PCs that aren't running Windows 7 or Windows 8 are being left in the dust by Microsoft.
Microsoft has been uncharacteristically brazen about drawing these lines in the sand in recent years. The fate of Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office (and Windows itself) is tied directly to the success or failure of Windows 8. Now, it is putting its proverbial money where its mouth is, and doubling down with the discounted Windows 8. Making Windows 8 available for a mere $40 is a compelling offer.
If you use Windows--and you're still using Windows XP or Vista--Microsoft is ready to call your bluff. You're welcome to reject the bargain upgrade to Windows 8 and keep your legacy operating system. After all, it's working just fine so you don't need to upgrade, right? But, you'll be on the wrong side of Microsoft's line in the sand, and you will probably find both support and sympathy lacking when issues arise.
Many users could care less about Internet Explorer 9 or 10. Chrome, Firefox, and a plethora of other options work just fine. There are also businesses and consumers still happily using Office 2010 or even Office 2003, and they're not interested in switching to Office 2013 any time soon. But, the $40 price tag on Windows 8 may still be enough to convince people to make the switch--just to hedge their bets and leave their options open.
While many users love Windows XP and maintain that they haven't moved to Windows Vista or Windows 7 because they simply don't see the need, I can't help but believe money is still a major contributing factor in that decision. I translate it to "I like Windows XP, so it's not worth $200 for me to buy Windows 7." If Microsoft gave away Windows 7 for free, I think many of those holdouts would happily embrace the newer operating system.
Well, Microsoft isn't giving Windows 8 away for free, but it is making a Godfather-esque "offer you can't refuse". With Windows XP rapidly approaching its end of life in terms of Microsoft support, that $40 move to Windows 8 will be very appealing. But, the bargain offer has a time limit, so users only have until January 31, 2013 to decide.
Microsoft has a lot on the line. Beginning October 26 we'll see if Microsoft's gamble will pay off.