Everyday Windows 10 users become beta testers for the Enterprise Edition
If you're using a genuine copy of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows Phone 8.1, the upgrade to Windows 10 is free within one year of the new version's release. That sounds like a sweet deal, and as Forbes' Gordon Kelly explains in a May 12, 2015, article, it is, for the most part.
Kelly offers three caveats for would-be Windows 10 upgraders. First, Microsoft is moving to a paid-subscription model for all subsequent versions of Windows (the current version numbering system will be dropped), so in two or three years, you may be required to pay for a subscription to receive updates.
Second, an "Important" revision to Windows Update itself adds a nagware component that pesters people who haven't yet upgraded to the new release. The third warning about the Windows 10 upgrade is that Windows 8.1 users who don't install the new release within 120 days of it becoming available will no longer receive any updates, including security patches.
There's a fourth reason why Windows users might hesitate to jump on the 10 bandwagon. In a June 26, 2015, article on Forbes.com, Kelly points out that Windows 10 Home and Pro users will serve as beta testers for the real money maker for Microsoft: Windows 10 Enterprise Edition (which will certainly not be offered for free).
Kelly cites a January 30, 2015, post on Microsoft's Windows for Your Business blog, which states that "enterprises will be able to receive feature updates after their quality and application compatibility has been assessed in the consumer market, while continuing to receive security updates on a regular basis." In other words, consumers will find the bugs that might slow down enterprise users.
At least Microsoft is transparent about which of its customers matter to the company.
Should you take the "free" upgrade? Kelly concludes that the new version's benefits outweigh any downsides. But the fact is, consumers and small businesses don't have much of a choice. If they stick with their current Windows version, their systems may become vulnerable to attack -- much sooner than anyone expected.
As a non-enterprise Windows user, I can't help but feel a little underappreciated. But in our current corporatocracy, what else is new?