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Microsoft's aggressive push to rule personal computing Part I: Windows 10

The Borg, a cybernetic alien race native to the Star Trek universe, are known for issuing this ominous warning before absorbing another species into their Collective, or hive mind. Their ambition is unbounded in that they scour the galaxy with the intent of assimilating every race they encounter.

Microsoft, though not a species-devouring antagonist is equally as ambitious and aggressive as the Borg. The company has grown beyond the dream of putting a PC on every desk to becoming the cloud-based platform for a user's digital experiences, a developer of cross-platform mobile apps and advocate of a vision of Windows 10 as an all-encompassing form-factor-agnostic OS.

Microsoft is telling the world, in less threatening tones than the Borg of course, that in relation to the company's pursuit to rule personal computing in its diverse manifestations, that resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. And you will like it.

Same dream, different era

Forty years ago Microsoft's founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen purposed to assimilate the world into their "PC in every home and on every desk" vision of personal computing. To this end, strategic OEM and business partnerships positioned Windows virtually everywhere personal computing takes place. Today more than 90% of the traditional PC space is ruled by Microsoft. Despite the attempts of other platforms to gain a meaningful foothold, resistance seemed futile. Until 2007.

The advent of the modern smartphone courtesy of Apple with the industry-changing iPhone, and later Google and its partners with Android devices, made casual and increasingly more complex personal computing mobile - going from the desktop to our pockets. Though Microsoft still rules the desktop, Android's 1.4 billion active users coupled with Apple's massive mobile presence, makes Microsoft's 1.5 billion PC install base look more like a previous chapter in computing history rather than a relevant force in personal computing today. Looks, however, can be deceiving.

For years, Microsoft has been developing an OS that shared a common core across all device types. For screen-less connected (IoT) devices, PC's and tablets, the Surface Hub, Xbox, HoloLens and phone, Windows 10 is the ever-evolving realization of that promise. This Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is an all-encompassing ambitious industry first.

Consider this: though Microsoft has indeed lost ground on the mobile phone front, their ambitions for personal computing, which is the real prize, engulfs phone, PC and every other venue where personal computing is or will be happening in the future. Think HoloLens:

Their ambitions for personal computing, which is the real prize, engulfs the phone, PC, and every other venue.

A PC on every desk was a noble pursuit during personal computing's infancy. However, in the age of the internet, cloud and connected devices, Microsoft feels personal computing must supersede a single device type. It must engulf them all. Still, Redmond's founding objective and current mission are largely the same. The present and more transient state of personal computing has simply enlarged the computing platform Microsoft is after. Microsoft would rather own the ocean we're floating on than the boats we're traveling it in.

Windows 10 and a massive PC install base are tools that will help the company execute its agenda toward that ambitious end.

A bird in the hand may get you the two in the bush

Microsoft's enormous PC install base is more than a leftover relic of a past age in computing. It's the company's foundation for building a universal platform to ensure a presence wherever personal computing is occurring.

Over 1 billion PCs on the planet use Windows. Satya Nadella realizes the leverage this legacy of Microsoft's founding mission affords the company. To get to phone and beyond it all begins with 1 billion Windows 10 Start Menus:

"The reason why anybody would want to write universal apps is…because a billion consumers are going to have a Start Menu, which is going to have your app. You start the journey there and take them to multiple places…the free upgrade for Windows 10 is meant to improve our phone position…If you come to Windows, you are going to be on the phone, too."

A path from a free OS upgrade to a vibrant Windows ecosystem that includes phone is not going to happen simply because Microsoft wants it to happen. Thus, Microsoft has taken several, sometimes controversial, steps to force destiny. Like the Borg, Microsoft is both aggressive and ambitious. That persistence is no more clearly seen than in their desperate push of Windows 10.

Inside Edition

Every plan needs a solid foundation. As such, Microsoft's plan to make Windows 10 a comprehensive answer to personal computing required an intense collaboration with ecosystem partners before the OS was released. Microsoft's statement below reveals that early commitment:

"In our testing of millions of systems, we're seeing full compatibility today with the vast majority of Windows 8x and Windows 7x systems – we will be continuing this application and device compatibility work every day as part of our ongoing commitment to Windows as a service."

Like the Borg, who are in constant communication with the hive mind, Windows 10's continuous state of evolution diminishes the likelihood that a user, once invested, will disengage from the ecosystem.

In addition to Redmond's collaboration with ecosystem partners the company's Insider program has been critical to the development of Windows 10. Of course, this program was not devised by Microsoft for any altruistic reasons. It's a deliberate strategy to help the company perpetuate its plan to assimilate the market.

It's a deliberate strategy to help the company perpetuate its plan to assimilate the market.

As the Borg gain knowledge from individuals, they assimilate and subsequently utilize that knowledge to assist them in assimilating a larger population, Microsoft used the information garnered from Insiders to help them build an OS that would be easy to move the masses to adopt. Resistance is futile.

The following statement by Microsoft, before the release of Windows 10, expresses the company' dependence on its insiders:

We are also rigorously testing and listening to every signal from our 5 million Windows Insiders on the quality and readiness of Windows 10.

Furthermore, Microsoft's dual user (work and personal) mission, necessitated that the company's collaboration with Insiders also encompasses enterprise partners. If Microsoft was to leverage the weight of its PC install base to disseminate its universal platform, deep collaboration with all target audiences was necessary.

All Aboard

With methodic precision Microsoft moved from building its new OS to one of the most aggressive distribution strategies the industry has ever seen. Nadella removed the first barrier to adoption by making Windows 10 free. Insiders, who were first to receive the update, were notified of its availability by a small, yet persistent, icon on the taskbar. Courtesy of Redmond, this icon began appearing on millions of PCs around the world as Microsoft prepared its install base for the upgrade.

Bits of the new OS that were deposited on PCs began assessing these system's readiness for the upgrade. Microsoft has met with some push back, as some users perceived Redmond's assertive push of Windows 10 via that icon as an imposition (opens in new tab). As the icon began "demanding" an upgrade, some users who decided they didn't want it, found its persistent presence an annoyance.

Anecdotally, I've ignored the icons petitions to upgrade my 7-inch HP Stream tablet. I prefer Windows 8.1 on that device size. That said, my 10- and 17-inch devices both feature Windows 10. Though there are round about ways to [circumvent the alert](http:// /how-remove-get-windows-10-app-pc) Microsoft, I'm certain, is counting on users opting for the easiest way to dismiss it: Simply conceding to the upgrade. Resistance is futile.

Microsoft's aggressive Windows 10 push doesn't end there. The company's strategic incorporation of Windows 10 within Windows Update as an "Optional Update" was in itself aggressive. Redmond, however, in its desperation to move the masses to Windows 10 has, as they promised, re-categorized Windows 10 as a "Recommended Update." Microsoft is aiming to make it more difficult for users to bypass the upgrade.

The "Install updates automatically" setting is the recommended method of facilitating Windows Updates. Since many users trust what the system suggests, they will probably choose that option. Consequently, the Windows 10 upgrade will likely automatically initiate on millions of PCs, without the full knowledge of less savvy users. Though users will be prompted as to whether they wish the upgrade to continue, Redmond's actions seem to echo the words of the Borg, "You will be assimilated."

Here's Microsoft's previous statement on this:

"Windows Update is the trusted, logical location for our most important updates, and adding Windows 10 here is another way we will make it easy for you to find your upgrade…we expect to be re-categorizing Windows 10 as a "Recommended Update". Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device".

Simply put, "resistance is futile."

Silicon allies

Intel HQ

Long-term resistance indeed seems pointless when one considers Microsoft's partners. A post by Microsoft on January 15, 2016, gave us valuable insights into the direction and impact of the company's alliance with manufacturers of the processors that power Windows PCs going forward:

"…as new silicon generations are introduced, they will require the latest Windows platform at that time for support. This enables us to focus on deep integration between Windows and the silicon…For example, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel's upcoming "Kaby Lake"…,Qualcomm's upcoming "8996"…, and AMD's upcoming "Bristol Ridge" silicon".

Simply put, new silicon will be optimized to take advantage of current and future features unique to Windows 10. Conversely, support for older Windows Operating Systems will be phased out. By working with processor partners to introduce processors tailored to Windows 10, Microsoft will progressively force the masses to its new OS.

So what happens once we've been "assimilated"?

One for all and all for one

With Windows 10 comes the Universal Windows Platform. The UWP ensures that all Windows 10 devices exist along a continuum where virtually any app that will run on one device will run on another. Naturally, certain form factors are optimal for certain tasks. Additionally, the shared core between the PC and mobile "variants" of Windows 10 makes them, in practice, the same platform. This point when fully embraced will change the very foundation of how developing for, analyzing and writing about Microsoft is seen.

Microsoft envisions a world where a user shifts seamlessly from one personal computing device to another. As this user does when moving from gameplay on his Xbox to his HoloLens in the video below:

It is the supporting foundation of this reality that Microsoft is striving to communicate to the industry. Microsoft's unique offering of a single OS for all device types is in stark contrast to what the industry has grown accustomed to developing for, analyzing and writing about. We are used to a paradigm where firms offer multiple personal computing platforms that cater to specific device form factors.

We are used to a paradigm where firms offer multiple personal computing platforms.

Particular device types are therefore invariably tied to specific platforms that are a component of a firm's entire personal computing ecosystem. Apple offers OS X for Macs and Mac Books, iOS for the iPhone and iPad, WatchOS for Apple Watch and tvOS for Apple TV. Google offers Chrome OS for Chromebooks and Android for smartphones, tablets, and connected devices. It is evident that Microsoft's rival's personal computing ecosystems extend further, and less successfully than their more successful mobile phone efforts.

Buyers guide: How to pick the best iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and more!

It's also clear that virtually each component of their personal computing efforts exists on disparate platforms. Thus, as developers, writers and analysts attempt to address the full scope of Apple's and Google's personal computing ecosystems, there's an inherent discontinuity due to the incoherence within the ecosystem resulting from the existence of multiple platforms. Though Apple's Continuity is an effort to solve this on the user-facing side, in reality, there is no way to view those firms from a perspective of a unified personal computing platform.

Microsoft has solved this problem. Though the rise of smartphones as the dominant personal computing device has made the "story" around personal computing about "the phone", personal computing is much broader. Microsoft's goal to rule personal computing with Windows 10 positions the company for that broad stroke.

Changing perceptions

Microsoft's challenge now is broadening the perspective of the industry at large from its focus on the smartphone to embracing the ever evolving transient nature of personal computing across devices. When, the industry's developers, writers, analysts, manufacturers and consumers fully embrace this, the general perspective will shift from how a particular device, (i.e. iPhone, Galaxy, Lumia, etc.) is performing in the market. It will be replaced with a view of what platform best connects the devices that facilitate our digital experiences from the development stage to the platform's actual use stage by end users.

It is this paradigm that Microsoft has prepared for with Windows 10. A reality that is focused on the broad personal computing platform that engulfs all devices, not a single personal computing device and platform. As it stands now, a developer that writes for Windows 10 has, in the six months since its release, a target of 200 million users. If Microsoft reaches its goal, in less than two years, that number will be 1 billion PCs, Xboxes, Surface Hubs and mobile devices like wearables, the growing 2-in-1 category and "phones."

The target is the breadth of a company's entire personal computing platform.

As developers embrace that the target is the breadth of a company's entire personal computing platform, the inherent synergy of developing for Windows 10 will become more evident as all devices within the UWP continuum benefit from an app introduced into the ecosystem. This shift will invariably lead to growth in Universal Windows Apps that help Windows 10 Mobile devices.

Microsoft is desperately attempting to ensure this occurs. Thus, they are aggressively leveraging their PC install base and pushing Windows 10 in such a way that anyone with a PC will eventually be using Windows 10. For 24 years the world has embraced Windows on PC. And it seems that if we wish to continue using Windows, Windows 10 and the broad ecosystem shifts it brings are inevitable. Resistance, it seems, is futile. We will be assimilated.

Part II: Microsoft's aggressive push to rule personal computing: cross-platform clouds and alternate realities

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

124 Comments
  • Thanks again for reading! So what are your thoughts about Microsoft's aggressive push of Windows 10. Will their aggression pay off or hurt the acceptance of the platform in the long run? Have any of your passed on Windows 10 on any of your devices? What about friends and family, do you know anyone who has passed on the upgrade or found the persistent appeal to upgrade and annoyance? What's on your mind? LET's TALK!!! Also please tune in for Part II. We're going to talk about some of Microsoft's other methods to establish itself to rule personal computing.
  • One OS to rule them all,
    One OS to bind them.
  • One OS to find them all
  • LOTR sucks.  Look, a bunch of hobos walking through the woods.  Yay??  Oh it has goblins and orcs and talking trees and fairies.  yay more??  LOTR eats it!!!
  • And in the Kernel bind them.
  • Resistance is futile
  • ALL YOUR DEVICES ARE BELONG TO US Sent from my Windows 10 Pro Insider Preview Build 14271.rs1_release.160218-2310 box.
  • I believe that W10 (overall) will take over... Mobile?... Has a chance, but it's a long shot.
    ..............
    It all comes down to if Windows finally gets APPS!
  • Sorry but Microsoft have already failed and lost the battle. UWP is dead. Why would developers make UWP apps when all Windows 10 devices can run Win32 apps. Yeah Windows Phones cant run Win32 apps but they sell so few of them that it does not matter anymore. No normal user will buy a PC when an iPad can do the same job without risking crapware and viruses. It hurts to admit it - but windows in the consumer space is dead. To little to late Microsoft.
  • An ipad can do the same thing?? So I can have five things open on the same screen with no lag? Can I play modern FPS, Racing, RPG games?? Can I play most steam games? Can I skype? Can I download and store more than 128 GB of stuff on a Mac?   Sorry I can't do any of those things on an IPAD....but I can on a PC. And I can do that for like 1/3 the cost of an IPAD. So go enjoy paying $700 for an IPAD to go use for facebook and itunes.....oh wait....I can do those also on a PC. lol...
  • My mom, grandmother, girlfriend and boss are all always complaining that they cannot do this on their iPads. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Oh, I see. That must be the reason why tablets are on a decline and 2-in-1 laptops (essentialy PCs) are on the rise.
  • I seem to think I can Skype on an iPad. Granted you can't have 5 applications open at the same time, but who needs to at home. My iPad has virtually made my computer redundant at home. I use a PC all day at work but at home my iPad does things better than any PC I have ever owned. On the few occasions I need to produce something more complicated, my chromebook is plenty good enough. The average person does not need a powerful desktop PC anymore and there are many places in the world where the mobile phone is the only computing device available. In a few years the only place you will see a desktop PC will be in an office. Posted via the Windows Central app
  • Chromebook? lol
     
  • Ever tried one? I was of the same opinion as you until I actually got one to replace my windows laptop. It runs Microsoft office online fine, has brilliant battery life and doesn't need to have anti virus software installed. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • "To little to late Microsoft." Obviously your iPad or whatever you use doesn't support even simple spell or grammar checking. Makes you sound rather like an idiot, I'm afraid.
  • All ready rule XD it
  • Yeah B)
  • Sad but reference drivers isn't that great for support
  • The summary of this entire article is, Microsoft is aggressively pushing Windows 10 so that they can make Universal Apps more attractive. Seriously Jason, you didn't have to write such a huge article to put this one point across. I used to enjoy reading your articles, you used to make some very good observations, but lately your articles have dropped in quality.
  • Even love dilutes.
  • Suppose you can do better then?. Come on give us a few paragraphs of what you would have written.
  • That's a terrible summary. You missed 90% of the article.
  • Lol.
  • I think his article was interesting and eloquently delivered. I guess the Borg example gives you away as on the Star Wars side of the fence ;-)
  • It's an editorial.... You can take it, or leave it. SMDH.
  • @pericle Thanks for the response. Can't please everyone all the time I suppose. I appreciate that you to the time to provide your feedback. I think, however, if you have the time to revisit the piece there is more there than what you summarized. I won't do a synopsis here but I think you'll find a pretty strong argument for a difficult shift toward changing the perceptions of the entire industry toward a new way to look at personal computing and MS positioning there. You may also see an addressing of a push to "force" thier OS which many have found questionable. Those are just two little tidbits. Take another look. I think you may find more. If not, well you are certainly welcome to your opinion. :-) Just keep coming back to WC. I'm sure someone will write something to tickle your fancy! :-)
  • Yes, it was quite the manifesto.
  • oh for a minute I thought you said fatso
  • You're such a gentleman.
  • I agree with you, they guy is a little bit to much in the past.
  • I hate windows 10 and also 8.1 as they are meant to be used personally. I want my family, friends to use my pc(install programs, use apps) without messing up with my emails and files in OneDrive which edge or IE automatically opens with out any login details. The only solution is to disable IE which a kid these days can understand how to enable it and have full access to my outlook and OneDrive storage.
  • Isn't that the point of different user accounts?
  • No not for me.i don't want multiple profiles on my pc.Let them do what ever they want without messing up with my cloud and email accounts.
  • I agree completely.
  • "i don't want multiple profiles on my pc​" That's obviously your choice. But it is also a refusal to deploy the solution that is actually provided for your exact complaint.  I don't get it. :)
  • Yes it's weird not to use different user accounts. I did it since XP....my Family would not like my Desktop or whatever personalization. And I not theirs. If you want one for your family, why not create the "Family Account", and you can still having yours with all your mails and whatnot.  
  • Which is exactly what I did when Outlook started issueing emails.  1 account for each memeber and 1 for the family. But they went to the iOS world and use Macs at school with school email accounts.
  • The implementation sucks. - My parents PC boots always to the last used account since they dont have passwords.  - When one user installs an app from the app store and another user wants that same app, they have to install it again.  - New user accounts come with a lot of bullcrap Apps installed, like: get skype, 3D builder etc. - Since MS decided to show my emailadress on log screen, I switched to local user instead. Now I can not rescue myself from "do you want to boot in with your MS account?" messages. The same thing will happen for other local users.    Don't get me wrong, I really love Windows 10 for personal use, but sharing a device with other people is horrible... 
  • In other OSs that happens too, heck, now even Android has a kids account! In which your kids don't mess with your mail, calendar, files, apps, etc. If I use my wife's Mac and add a favorite in Safari, guess what, her favorites save that setting...
  • Even if you are still using Windows 7, you should create multiple user accounts and password protect your login.  The other accounts should not have Admin access so they can't install any desktop programs.  Your family and friends won't have access to your stuff.  Really no excuse.
  • Didn't I state "let them do what ever they want" which means I don't care even if they brought virus on to my pc other than opening my cloud storage and email. My home computer still runs on XP and I love using it as It has no cloud integration.
  • Frankly I don't think people really care what you think or do, such narrow minded comments have no place regarding articles such as this.
  • It does relate to this article to a few extent. MSFT now does not differentiate personal computing devices and desktops or a single pc in an house hold. Population has shifted towards personal computing(mostly mobile) and use a desktop OS for niche things. It's really good that for MSFT to survive it has to shift towards personal computing but they just forgot about power users who want to have full control over desktops they use.
  • Did you just define a "power user" to someone who has your outlook on how to use a computer?
  • Yeah... don't pretend to speak for power users when you won't even use the features on your box for the purposes they're intended.
  • I know a lot of users just like you and you're the users they'll never get away from windows xp and 7. I was reluctant to move pass xp for all of those reasons too. 
  • Just create a local account for your family to share and log on as your own account when you want to do "cloud stuff". You can also use the "run as a different user" feature to run an app (including IE or Windows Explorer) as yourself without logging out as the generic local user.
  • I'm actually giving a seminar on UWP as a part of my final year engineering.
  • Good luck with your seminar, wish you well!