Earlier this month, Microsoft revised it support policy for consumer versions of Windows.
Haven’t heard about it? Nor has hardly anyone, as Microsoft didn’t exactly make a big deal or announcement regarding this change.
So what does it mean for the average Window user? Basically, the traditional support model for Windows gives you 5 years from the OS’s release of ‘mainstream’ support. After this, mainstream support for updates and more ends, but traditionally those with business versions get an additional 5 years of extended support.
Now, everyone will get 10 years support (5 mainstream/5 extended), regardless of the version.
This makes a great deal of sense, especially when you consider that all SKUs essentially share a large amount of the same code, bringing the updates/patches to all versions isn’t really going to cost Microsoft anything, though I suppose it could make the business versions less appealing.
This also might actually fall in line with the rumors that claim Windows 8 will only have one SKU.
This rumor suggests that Microsoft will follow in Apple’s footsteps and likely just have Windows 8 and Windows 8 Server. Considering Microsoft has just changed the policy to allow extended use on consumer and business versions, this might be a small example of big changes to come in the way they release SKUs.
Do I think they will only release one? I’m not certain, but I could see them returning to a model of just a professional and home version, not Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, etc.
Of course this change in policy is also sure to bring about claims that Microsoft isn’t confident that Windows 8 will do well, and so it is extending its lifecycles on past operating systems, to fight off any problems that might arise if Windows 8 isn’t well received.
While I think such a notion is ludicrous, I do think that MS might be aware that some users are going to cling on to past versions until enough years have passed that the folks at Redmond have proven that Metro is a functional idea that works well for all kinds of users, including power and business users.
Extending the support to cover this folks that won’t adapt right away could be a very small part of the reasoning behind this extension. At the same time, I think Microsoft would be more likely to take away support to force conversion, that to extend life on older operating systems to please users that don’t want change.
So the real reason for this policy change? Because it just makes sense? Why not release updates for both consumer and business versions? By extending the life of its OS, Microsoft is showing again how they are doing things ‘differently’ than they have in the past, thus possibly giving consumers more confidence and trust in Microsoft. That’s just my theory, not claiming it has anything to do with why the change was made, though.
So what do you think? Could it be possible that Microsoft really is unifying SKUs with Windows 8 and this is part of the reason for this change? All I know is that Microsoft constantly is surprising me this days, for the better. I am rather optimistic for the future, something I wasn’t so sure about back in the XP/Vista days.