Microsoft seems determined to do the right thing with the upcoming version of Windows. After decades of sticking it to loyal Windows users with pricey upgrades and short-term perspectives, Microsoft under Satya Nadella seems to have seen the light.
Earlier this year, Microsoft made the enlightened decision to make Windows 10 a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, and it has recently become clear that Microsoft will take another step to support Windows 10 users. The company intends to bypass the mobile carriers and update Windows 10 mobile devices directly as well—at least for business users with its Windows Update for Business program.
That's a big difference from the way Windows mobile updates have been handled, and a big difference from the way Android mobile devices are updated. It promises the potential to avoid the splintering of operating system versions that currently bedevils both users and developers of Android apps. For Android users, the situation means they may have to wait months, years, or sometimes forever to update their devices to the latest version of the OS. Developers, meanwhile, have to support a dizzying array of versions, adding complexity and cost.
Microsoft's savvy move seems intended to avoid those issues, following in the footsteps of Apple, which famously makes it free and easy to update iOS (and cheap and easy to update Mac OS X). That approach has made Apple users happy and contributed to developers' widespread preference to develop for iOS first. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft's move will make a significant difference to the development and adoption of Windows 10. But I think it's an important step, both on its own and as additional proof of a general change in Microsoft's attitude toward its users and developer.