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Satya Nadella: Articulating a vision for Windows 10

Scott M. Fulton, III | Jan. 23, 2015
During Wednesday morning's Windows 10 preview event in Redmond, Washington, Microsoft executives made their strongest pitch to date in favor of a somewhat different interpretation of cross-platform functionality than Windows 8 and 8.1 delivered.

During his earlier speech, Nadella cited one of Windows 10's key "strategy points" as the concept of Windows-as-a-service. It's a way of gently introducing the fact that customers who take Nadella up on his offer of free service to upgraders for one year, will officially be Windows subscribers after that year.

"It's a pretty profound change," said the CEO. "It's not just simple mechanics, although there are big changes in terms of our development methodology, our deployment policy, our servicing. It's much more fundamental than that. For us, it is about aligning our goals of successful Windows with customers and their experience and engagement with Windows. That's what Windows-as-a-service means."

Bob O'Donnell, chief analyst with Technalysis Research, said after the keynote session concluded that he was impressed with Microsoft's ability to convey a convincing message in favor of the new operating system. O'Donnell believes there will be something in Wednesday's message that speaks to users' basic needs, the simple return of the Start Menu being the most obvious. But the inclusion of Cortana, the voice-driven personal assistant from Windows Phone, he feels will speak to people who have difficulty getting their Windows to do everyday tasks, like find certain groups of pictures from their media libraries.

"All those things together creates a much smarter experience for people," said O'Donnell, "and I think it makes them rethink how they use their PC."

The convergence of all these changes, O'Donnell predicts, presents a compelling enough value proposition for existing PC owners to upgrade from Windows 7, or perhaps even older systems. However, he added, "the challenge that remains -- and I'm still concerned -- is, I don't think this changes the needle on mobile phones. But the PC and tablet story is very strong, and the fact that it's all free, I think, is just going to encourage doing additional feature updates."


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