Microsoft reveals a host of big announcements from its Convergence 2015 event

Windows 10 space-saving and IoT features revealed, ‘Freemium’ model hinted

Microsoft has made a number of big announcements at its Convergence 2015 event surrounding its upcoming OS Windows 10.

Internet of Things

Firstly, it announced it is delving into the Internet of Things (IoT) market, and plans to power connected smart devices in the future. It revealed the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite and Windows 10 for Internet of Things.

The Azure IoT Suite allows businesses to manage, connect and analyse all of their ‘things’, and will be available in preview form later this year. lt will provide businesses with finished applications targeting common IoT scenarios, such as remote monitoring, asset management and predictive maintenance. 

Windows 10 for Internet of Things will offer one Windows platform with universal apps and driver models that will span a ‘wide range’ of devices, from low-footprint controllers such as IoT gateways to more powerful devices such as ATMs and industrial robotics. Windows 10 IoT will also bring enterprise-grade security from the device to the cloud, and native connectivity for machine-to-machine and machine-to-cloud scenarios with Azure IoT services.

Microsoft’s ‘Freemium’ business model

The software giant hinted that it is going to make money from its free-to-download software by charging users for extras and additional features, reports The Verge.

Microsoft’s chief marketing officer Chris Caposella revealed Microsoft’s freemium plans at Convergence 2015, saying that it involves four parts: acquire, engage, enlist, and monetise. 

"Acquire is Microsoft’s way of getting people to use a product for free, like Office for iPad. Engage is Microsoft’s plan to get them hooked on the product and leverage other parts of its ecosystem to keep someone using the service. Enlist is simply finding fans to keep the circle going, and then monetizing is figuring out who will pay for subscription versions of the service they’re hooked on," said the report.

As Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for one year for users of Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, PCR had previously questioned how it will make money in that first year, and in my editorial leader column in our February issue, I did suggest that Microsoft saying it’s making ‘Windows as a service’ could mean paid-for subscriptions or microtransactions in the future.

PCR reached out to Microsoft to find out if this will be the case for Windows 10 going forwards. However, all a spokesperson could offer was: "I’m afraid we have nothing further to share."

Space-saving Windows 10

Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be more compact than previous operating systems, taking up less space on both PCs and mobile devices by compressing system files better.

With current builds, Windows can give back approximately 1.5GB of storage for 32-bit and 2.6GB of storage for 64-bit Windows. 

Microsoft is also redesigning Windows’ Refresh and Reset functionalities to no longer use a separate recovery image (often pre-installed by manufacturers today) in order to bring Windows devices back to a pristine state. This reduces Windows’ storage footprint further as the recovery image on typical devices can range in size from 4GB to 12GB.

This means an additional 6.6GB of storage could be freed for the user, as shown in the pie chart on the right.

There’s more info on this on the Windows Blog.

Other announcements

Microsoft also announced the following tools for business:

  • Power BI is a new service, now available in the US and more than 140 markets around the world, that helps customers use live market operational dashboards, explore data through interactive visual reports, and share new insights with colleagues and customers. New Power BI connectors, dashboards and reports for sources including Google Analytics will be available soon.
  • The spring 2015 release for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, expected by the end of the second quarter of 2015, will deliver "significant performance enhancements, deepen interoperability with Office 365, and with new knowledge management enhancements, improve efficiency and collaboration between workers and businesses", says Microsoft. The release also introduces Microsoft Social Engagement, the latest update to Microsoft’s social monitoring tool.

The following tools for individuals were also revealed: 

  • Office Delve, now globally available, helps users discover relevant documents, conversations and connections from across Office 365. Plus, Exchange Online and Yammer content is now accessible via the Delve experience.
  • IT Professional and Developer Preview of Office 2016 will be the next version of Office on the Windows desktop. Office 2016 is expected to be generally available in the second half of this year, following a preview.
  • Skype for Business (previously Microsoft Lync) technical preview starts this week, and the new Skype for Business client, server and service within Office 365 will be available starting in April. Skype for Business delivers allows voice and video collaboration for the enterprise based on the usual Skype user interface.

“Businesses are hungry to seize new opportunities using technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics,” said Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft.

“Only when businesses create a culture that empowers everyone to have access to data and insight that drive action will they be positioned to truly transform.”

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