Microsoft is giving Windows 10 users an anniversary gift. Updates to the software will allow Cortana fans to move away from passwords. And that’s just the beginning.
Cortana users will be able to connect with their computers with simple voice commands, and they will be able to command Cortana to remember an array of specific information to bring up instantly later.
But the updates extend beyond Microsoft’s “digital assistant.” A new program, Windows Ink, is expected to allow users to add handwritten notes and draw on documents or maps.
Best of all, Windows 10 will still be available to current Windows users for free until July 29. After that, expect to pay.
At present, Microsoft reports about 350 million devices running Windows 10. That sounds like a lot, but the buy in hasn’t been exactly what Microsoft was hoping for. After initial spikes in downloads, the number tapered off drastically, and some Microsoft executives feel they’re reaching their saturation point. The Anniversary Present is a clear push to try to get more people on the Windows 10 train.
This is a huge focus for Microsoft because the company has seen fewer people buying PCs and hasn’t had much success in the mobile market to date. Once the undisputed king of all computing, Microsoft began this year looking down the barrel of slowly encroaching irrelevance. If they couldn’t get current users excited about Windows again, and they couldn’t get new people on board, the king would not rule for much longer. The writing was on the wall.
It didn’t help that reviews of Windows 10 were decidedly mixed. Some users loved the updated software while others – too many others – reported drastic slowdowns, crashes, and lost data. At least one customer sued in small claims court and won a settlement. When that’s your starting point, there’s a long way “up” you can go.
Will the Anniversary Gift entice more users to jump on the Windows 10 train or is Microsoft simply treading water trying to market last decade’s tech? What do you think?
David Milberg is a credit analyst in NYC.