Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded



  • The major topic around the community today has been whether or not Windows 7 can be upgraded to later versions using the Windows 10 upgrade tools. Separate from any discussion around whether you can or not, or if you can or not, or how to do it, there is another discussion that should exist, and that is "why does Microsoft keep making upgrade paths expire, then offer more, then expire those." This seems crazy, at first. But it really isn't and it's something that's been being discussed for many years.

    First, we should look at Microsoft's goals, because they are decently obvious. First, they want to make money. Money is more important than isolated sales. Less obvious is that old version of Windows costs MS a lot of money and getting people all off of them and on to newer versions saves them a lot of money and money saves is better than money earned. So MS has a huge desire to get people from "anything old" onto Windows 10, Windows 10 changes how Windows works and starts doing "essentially forced, essentially rolling updates" and hides or removes nearly all aspects of versioning so that users have little desire to, or capability, to remain on old code.

    Second, the move from the older "versioned" world of Windows (NT 3.1 through Windows 8.1) to the non-versioned, no-updates world of Windows 10 is a one time event, not a continuous financial hit. MS need only go through this process once and it is solved for forever. They make huge returns getting this changeover completed, so getting less in software licensing for a short time span is of little concern for them compared to the huge returns of the new update mechanism.

    Third, most shops update naturally over time and their licensing of Windows 10 is either happening with other hardware updates and costing MS nothing, or is just happening slightly early for shops that were never going to update anyway, again costly MS nothing. The number of shops interested in doing an update to their software, but not going to update their hardware (which comes with Windows 10 anyway) is actually a trivially small number to Microsoft.

    All of this comes together to tell us that, from a business perspective, Microsoft really, really wants everyone on Windows 10, and that they don't care what it takes to get people there, and that they could care less about charging people for in place Windows to Windows 10 upgrades.

    So what we've always predicted is that Microsoft was going to offer the upgrade for free, but that it would come with as much artificial pressure to upgrade as soon as possible as they could muster to make both software vendors and customers feel that they "had to do it now" to meet certain deadlines. But they wouldn't want to ever totally cut people off, because the last thing that they want is anyone deciding to just stay back on old versions, or to move off of Windows completely (to macOS, Ubuntu, tablets, etc.) Microsoft has a massive incentive to get people to stay on Windows, and get upgraded, and the cost of Windows is of no real concern.

    What we found was exactly this. At first MS offered a free upgrade through some time in 2016 to get early adopters to jump on and upgrade. This got a lot of users on to Windows 10 and an early user base. Savvy shops, though, knew that another "unlimited free" upgrade program existed if you just ran one of MS' assisstive technologies once. This was a great promotion that gave everyone more time to get it "free", while looking like they were going out of their way for one group of users without pointing out that it applied to everyone unnecessarily. Great marketing at work. Each program created an "urgency" that gave IT departments the power that they needed to pressure their businesses to allow them to upgrade.

    After the assisstive tech option expired as we came into 2018, it seemed like no program was still available to allow for updates. To keep up this illusion, many MS websites even state that no upgrade path is available today. But still, we know that all of this has just been marketing all along. What MS wants us to think is all a factor in getting us to "do" what they want.

    Upgrade paths appear to still exist today, actually easier today than ever before with the restrictions on the updates simply having been lifted. This is exactly as has been expected since the very beginning. It makes no sense for Microsoft to cut off the update paths. If customers have been screwed by their software vendors, MS doesn't want to run salt in the wounds. If customers just don't understand their options, MS doesn't want them to hold back.

    Microsoft's goals and behaviour seem consistent from the first day until now.... create an illusion of urgency, pressure everyone to upgrade, offer free low friction upgrade paths, get old Windows platforms retired ASAP. That false sense of urgency is something that Microsoft has needed, not so much to pressure IT departments who normally want updates if they can get them, but to allow IT departments to pressure their businesses into allowing them to update.



  • @scottalanmiller

    I love you man, but the answer can be summed up by one word = money



  • @Emad-R said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @scottalanmiller

    I love you man, but the answer can be summed up by one word = money

    True, but most people think that the money comes primarily from "selling Windows", but the reality is that even more money comes from giving away free updates. So thinking "it has to be all about the money" will generally lead to thinking that MS is really trying to block updates, rather than just trying to make it appear that they are.



  • Direct Windows sales make up a very small amount of revenue for MS. Their real money comes from the OEMS.



  • @pchiodo said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    Direct Windows sales make up a very small amount of revenue for MS. Their real money comes from the OEMS.

    And that's just within the OS space, which isn't their money maker or future. They are rapidly prepping for a free OS future as it is diminishing revenues (especially on the desktop) with more and more cost for them to maintain. Hence this entire move of getting people to a "zero cost upgrade desktop" so that the OEM really becomes the only revenue for it whatsoever and we expect that to go away really soon, too.



  • @scottalanmiller Do you think we'll eventually see this in Win Server OS versions as well?



  • @thegr81337 said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @scottalanmiller Do you think we'll eventually see this in Win Server OS versions as well?

    I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't, and simply improve the CAL system so as to get to the point of just 1 installable for any scenario and then CALs for the use case or service you are deploying.



  • @thegr81337 said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @scottalanmiller Do you think we'll eventually see this in Win Server OS versions as well?

    That's way more of a long shot. The profits and management of the server OSes is very different than that of desktops. Over time, I think that they will make those free as well, but long after the desktops. Desktops take a huge amount of effort for small money, servers take far less effort for more money. Quite a different financial dynamic.

    But their "real" money comes from sources like Azure, Office 365, MS Office, and such... all of which benefit from the OS being free and more wide spread. Moves like MS SQL Server being ported to Linux are definitely highly suggestive of a larger strategy towards the higher profit apps and away from the lower profit OS.

    I think the real barrier for MS is getting their OS to be open source. Closed source is more expensive to maintain and puts all onus on the vendor. Open source fixes that. But they have so many licensed components and legacy code that it will take forever to get that worked out.



  • @DustinB3403 said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @thegr81337 said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @scottalanmiller Do you think we'll eventually see this in Win Server OS versions as well?

    I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't, and simply improve the CAL system so as to get to the point of just 1 installable for any scenario and then CALs for the use case or service you are deploying.

    I expect that they will phase out the CALs. The moves to cloud based computing mean that profits can come from other vectors that are easier and more straightforward to monetize.



  • @DustinB3403
    @scottalanmiller

    So "Micorsoft Server 365" eventually, but no time soon because of technical (code) limitations and it's too much of a cash cow already under the current system, right?



  • Something that Microsoft hates is that companies that steal software or that know how to maneuver around licenses really well have much higher profits than those that don't. The companies who are MS' best customers are the ones bleeding compared to their competition either by being less skillful at licenses, or just by trying to not break the license agreements. It's unfair to them, and screwed MS too, that the good, honest customers struggle to compete against the crooked ones. Of course, that's always the case with any business situation, cheaters have a leg up, but it is one that MS is attempting to fix where they can.



  • @thegr81337 said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @DustinB3403
    @scottalanmiller

    So "Micorsoft Server 365" eventually, but no time soon because of technical (code) limitations and it's too much of a cash cow already under the current system, right?

    That's a little different. Moving to a subscription based licensing model seems likely long before the licenses become free and/or open. They can move to an O365 Server license model today if they chose, it would just be disruptive to their customers who barely figure out the current licensing model.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @thegr81337 said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @DustinB3403
    @scottalanmiller

    So "Micorsoft Server 365" eventually, but no time soon because of technical (code) limitations and it's too much of a cash cow already under the current system, right?

    That's a little different. Moving to a subscription based licensing model seems likely long before the licenses become free and/or open. They can move to an O365 Server license model today if they chose, it would just be disruptive to their customers who barely figure out the current licensing model.

    There's a lot of benefits going subscription based licensing. Yeah it costs more, but there's so much more. Great if you need it, but if not, too expensive.



  • Windows 10 as a service is already a thing for enterprise and it seems like recent consumer versions have been leaning more that way as well. Everyone's getting on the Netflix / gym membership subscription model these days. I'm not a fan but I get it. 😞
    https://www.pcworld.com/article/3094785/yes-windows-10-subscriptions-are-coming-at-least-for-enterprise.html



  • @JustRob said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    Windows 10 as a service is already a thing for enterprise and it seems like recent consumer versions have been leaning more that way as well. Everyone's getting on the Netflix / gym membership subscription model these days. I'm not a fan but I get i

    Well right now, Windows for consumers is already a subscription plan, just a free one. They've already made the move. It's already free (once the initial purchase is made.) Basically if you get an OEM machine, that's it, it's free for forever.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @JustRob said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    Windows 10 as a service is already a thing for enterprise and it seems like recent consumer versions have been leaning more that way as well. Everyone's getting on the Netflix / gym membership subscription model these days. I'm not a fan but I get i

    Well right now, Windows for consumers is already a subscription plan, just a free one. They've already made the move. It's already free (once the initial purchase is made.) Basically if you get an OEM machine, that's it, it's free for forever.

    it's weird (for me) to think of that as a subscription, but get what you are saying...

    We've been that way since the beginning with Windows and updates, free subscription (at least for the version you purchased - now it's even better - you not only get security updates, you also get version upgrades).

    With computer purchases being spaced out further and further apart, MS's ability to make money based only on the sales of a license at the PCs start of life possibly doesn't provide enough to MS to keep that department alive/worthwhile. Moving to a paid subscription plan (which I don't think will ever actually be accepted by home users for their devices - but who knows, time will only tell) might be a requirement, else we start to see things die off, like Windows being killed off, heck Chrome OS could be killed off for the same reason. Google is likely supplementing Chrome O/S through their ad revenues... but if we see those start to decline (there are many conversations out there now about how many browsers are starting to put in blocks to cut down on tracking - and google of course is freaking out about it and how it will affect their revenues.



  • @Dashrender said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    Google is likely supplementing Chrome O/S through their ad revenues... but if we see those start to decline (there are many conversations out there now about how many browsers are starting to put in blocks to cut down on tracking - and google of course is freaking out about it and how it will affect their revenues.

    No ads on ChromeOS that you don't already see on other platforms.



  • @Dashrender said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    and google of course is freaking out about it and how it will affect their revenues.

    Duck Duck Go remains happy. I wish they'd make a ChromeOS competitor!



  • @scottalanmiller said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @Dashrender said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    Google is likely supplementing Chrome O/S through their ad revenues... but if we see those start to decline (there are many conversations out there now about how many browsers are starting to put in blocks to cut down on tracking - and google of course is freaking out about it and how it will affect their revenues.

    No ads on ChromeOS that you don't already see on other platforms.

    I don't mean ChromeOS has more ads, I mean google's ad business is supplementing the ChromeOS division.



  • @Dashrender said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @scottalanmiller said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @Dashrender said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    Google is likely supplementing Chrome O/S through their ad revenues... but if we see those start to decline (there are many conversations out there now about how many browsers are starting to put in blocks to cut down on tracking - and google of course is freaking out about it and how it will affect their revenues.

    No ads on ChromeOS that you don't already see on other platforms.

    I don't mean ChromeOS has more ads, I mean google's ad business is supplementing the ChromeOS division.

    Kind of. But ChromeOS is created to shore up the ad business by making you less likely to look at other ads. But ChromeOS and Android are merging and that's a profitable business.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    But their "real" money comes from sources like Azure, Office 365, MS Office, and such... all of which benefit from the OS being free and more wide spread.

    I'd shorten that to say the "real" money comes from Azure (or at least, will do in the future). All other Microsoft products are now merely tools to sell Azure. They are now a hosting company rather than a software company.

    I now work in Microsoft Dynamics, and it's not about what companies use to run their business applications, it's about where their business applications are hosted. Microsoft are happy for you to run Salesforce (ostensibly a competitor), if you run it in Azure.

    I don't expect them to do much with their server OS, as I don't think they see that in their future. Desktop OS is important, because you need a desktop to access the cloud - but it's only important in as much as it is used to sell Azure.



  • @Carnival-Boy said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    Desktop OS is important, because you need a desktop to access the cloud - but it's only important in as much as it is used to sell Azure.

    But you can access Azure just as well (or better in many cases) from Ubuntu, ChromeOS, Fedora, macOS, etc. In many cases, their desktop OS is actually a detriment to their Azure business because it is mired in legacy apps that don't work [well] on cloud. Whereas all the other OSes tend to be far less mired in legacy apps and more cloud friendly in their ecosystems.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    @Carnival-Boy said in Why Microsoft Wants You to Think Windows 7 Can't Be Upgraded:

    Desktop OS is important, because you need a desktop to access the cloud - but it's only important in as much as it is used to sell Azure.

    But you can access Azure just as well (or better in many cases) from Ubuntu, ChromeOS, Fedora, macOS, etc.

    Of course, but you can push users towards Azure by controlling what users see on the desktop - think pre-installing Skype or Edge or the Microsoft App Store. Google do the same for their OS. Amazon are probably the most explicit in practically giving away Amazon Fires just to push Amazon services.