Last week, rumors started flying that Microsoft was going to make upgrades to a cut-down version of Windows 8.1 either free or very inexpensive for Windows 7 owners.
That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but the target is wrong. Here’s a great idea: Microsoft needs to be dangling the freebie in front of Windows XP owners.
And I think Microsoft ought to know this, seeing as they’ve got a friends-and-family ad campaign going on, trying to encourage people to encourage their less computer literate family members to upgrade from XP.
Let’s face it: Most of the people who were going to upgrade from Windows 7 to 8 or 8.1 already have. Not many holdouts are going to pay $40 or even $25 to upgrade. I’d be surprised if many of the Windows 7 owners would upgrade for free, frankly.
Given the opportunity to upgrade for a modest fee, some percentage of XP owners will jump, especially if they’re reminded that the last security update for it will come out a week before tax time. That’s not a long time from now. Most likely an even greater number would jump if it were free.
I think Windows 8.1 is pretty much a lost cause and it’s time for Microsoft to admit that it’s Vista 2.1, give it away as a tonic to XP, and hope they get it right with Windows 9.
Windows 7 proved that people will buy a Microsoft product, but Windows 8 and 8.1 proved they’ll no longer do it blindly.
As it stands, my recommendation to escape from XP is still to buy an off-lease refurb with Windows 7 on it.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.