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by Ray Carlson

Q. Since the media is suggesting that Windows 10 will be much better than 7 or 8, should I delay getting a new computer until that version is released?

A. If you need a new computer, don't delay. Last week, Microsoft announced that an upgrade to Windows 10 will be free for anyone using Windows 7 or 8.1 for the first year after 10 is released. As a result, if you get a new computer with one of those systems, you can upgrade it to Windows 10 when that system is available. Microsoft also announced that improvements to Windows 10 will be added at no additional cost for the life of that computer. Rather than creating a new version every couple of years, Microsoft apparently intends to add new features as they are ready.

This policy is a way for Microsoft to encourage current sales when their income is down. But how Microsoft will make money in the future is a question that the company has not answered. The executives who made this announcement used the phrase "Windows as a service," a phrase that is open to multiple interpretations.

One interpretation is based on the fact that Windows 10 will be available on all forms of digital equipment. Many apps are being developed that can be used on each type of equipment including Cortana, a talking digital assistant, Spartan, an expanded way to browse the Internet, new photo editing and handling, holographic technology, etc. The user who gets comfortable using all these features on their office computer can continue using them with their phone, tablet, and laptop without an additional learning curve. The result might be more sales of Windows-based phones and tablets where Windows currently has a very low percentage of users. Those increased sales could generate the income Microsoft loses on initial sales of Windows 10. To be successful, Microsoft needs to get everyone excited about using Windows 10 on all their digital equipment.

Published: Courier 1/31/15 - Page 12A