Author Topic: Paid extended Windows 10 support will be a nightmare for consumers  (Read 57 times)

Offline javajolt

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I was not surprised when Microsoft sent Neowin an email about the Extended Security Program for Windows 10, which will grant the operating system three more years of support after the end of its mainstream support in late 2025. After all, the program is not a new concept—it is a solid tool for organizations that are not ready to upgrade to a more recent release. Pay Microsoft money, get updates, and you are golden.

That was the case with Windows XP and Windows 7, two legendary operating systems (Windows 7's ESU program ended in January 2023). What was surprising is that Microsoft was about to let "regular customers" join the Extended Security Updates program for a currently undisclosed fee.

For context, Windows 10 is an extremely popular desktop operating system with more than one billion monthly active devices. For comparison, Windows 11, after two years on the market, is installed on only 400 million+ computers. A solid chunk of Windows 10's market share sticks to the old OS only because Microsoft is not force-upgrading them. And even though Microsoft has not made its plans clear, you can safely assume the company will start upgrading eligible Windows 10 users to Windows 11 somewhere in mid-2025, if not earlier.

With Windows 11 having steep hardware requirements, millions of computers, if not hundreds of millions, will remain forever on Windows 10 unless their owners opt for experiments with installing an unsupported OS or Linux. Microsoft knows how big of a problem the situation is. To mitigate it, the company decided to let customers pay for the extended support, a privilege previously available only to enterprise customers. That might become an issue.

Who cares?

If you are a PC or tech enthusiast, you know how important it is to use supported software in the modern world. You are most likely running the latest Windows version with Windows Update left untouched. Sadly, not every Windows user is like you. To be fair, most "regular consumers" rarely pay attention to Windows updates unless they break things.

A solid chunk of Windows 10 users will not care about their PCs running an outdated operating system, not to mention paying Microsoft for abstract security updates. I am all good if a computer still checks for emails, plays YouTube, and launches games. Even Windows 11, a big OS with new features, not just a random "security update," is free for a reason.

Those accustomed to Windows 10, a "cozy" operating system with updates that bring little to no changes in the shade of the Windows 11's fuss, will soon be forced to pay. If some of them do not care to even check for free updates, will they care enough to pay for them? What are the chances of me getting a virus, right?

Getting under your skin

Microsoft understands the situation, and you will be excused for imagining the final Windows 10 updates delivering a payload of banners and notifications warning users about the inevitable end of support and Extended Security Updates program ads. Microsoft is not shying away from ads in Windows 11, Edge, and other products, so there is no reason to believe it will not fill Windows 10 with more banners. Most likely, Windows 10's final months of mainstream support will turn into a constant fight with ads and notifications.

Do not get me wrong. I understand that Microsoft has no other choice. After all, the company has to notify its customers, who are often stubborn or completely indifferent. Still, we are talking about a company that is not shy of injecting ads into the Chrome website just to make people stick to Edge. Do you really expect it to be "gentle?"

The problem of scam

I can only imagine scammers reading the news on December 5, 2023, and shouting in joy. It will soon become much easier to scam inexperienced people. Paid Windows 10 support, what a gift from Microsoft. Just buy me ten Amazon gift cards to continue receiving updates and keeping your computer free from viruses.

Sure, sure, bad people will always find a way to make one willingly give their money. But that will be much easier in 2025 and onward (I can bet someone somewhere is already getting scammed). Therefore, get ready to upgrade your grandma's laptop or read a lecture about digital hygiene. I guess the silver lining is that we will get more good content on YouTube, where clever content makers annoy scammers and waste their time.

No one forced Microsoft to go this way

After years of Windows as a service, the company changed its plans and returned to releasing big Windows versions every three years. Mind you, no one was asking for that, and users were okay with an operating system quietly evolving in the background without getting in the way. Now, the company has to figure out what to do with a billion Windows devices running a soon-to-be-dead operating system.

Sure, paid security updates available for regular consumers are still better than nothing. But we are talking about Microsoft, an absolutely enormous company. With its scale and wallet, it can afford to give Windows 10 users a few more years of support. Paid updates are okay for companies whose IT admins know their stuff. But for regular consumers, they look like a lazy attempt to offload the responsibility or enforce unnecessary upgrades. Is that a ransomware-encrypted hard drive? That sucks; you should have purchased our security update subscription, bro, or buy a computer with Windows 12 (even though your desktop PC with a seventh-gen Intel CPU or even older still handles daily tasks with no issues).

Windows 10's ongoing efforts and continuous updates cemented the idea of an ever-evolving operating system. In 2022, Microsoft finally said Windows 10 would not receive big feature updates. Shortly after, it introduced Copilot and a toggle to get non-security updates faster. So, is Windows 10 done or not?

More than one billion monthly active and always-connected devices are too sweet to ignore if you want to boost your usage stats, which is why Copilot is coming to Windows 10. Microsoft does not mind adding half-baked features, but a few years of security updates seem too much.

Microsoft cannot just get rid of Windows 10 and its massive user base, which does not leave this company a choice other than to support Windows 10 for a few more years without resorting to controversial practices like paid updates. After all, days of premium operating system updates are long gone.

We do not know how much Microsoft wants to charge its customers for the Extended Security Updates program. But even if it is just $0.99 per month, heck, year, too many customers would not care. They would either sit with an outdated and unsupported OS or turn their computers into e-waste.

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« Last Edit: December 19, 2023, 03:48:24 AM by javajolt »