Following recent reports that Microsoft may release a free, always-online version of Windows called Windows Cloud, PCR asked independent retailers and resellers how they feel about it...
Anthony Lay, owner of AML Midlands, commented that initially he was “shocked" following the rumours.
“But then,” he continued, “thinking outside the box – which I think Microsoft are thinking – [I was] actually glad.
“Multi-platform devices running different operating systems, such as Chrome and iOS, make cross-platform for an administrator hell.
“Microsoft is trying to potentially make an easier solution for partners and administrators. Sales would be down, but [it would then be] far easier to aid and support clients.”
However, not all retailers were so optimistic about the opportunity for cloud support provided by retailers.
Edward Pascoe of LRG Systems told PCR: “I sincerely hope that the cloud falls over and that we have a massive data breach – people will want to come back to Earth-based servers.”
Jamie Baker, owner of Computers R Us, added: “It's an interesting concept. However, we have a select core of customers that see the cloud as a kneecap to their business, especially in the more rural and remote areas where broadband speeds are the predominant issue against uptake of these services.”
When asked whether offering a new Windows platform for free could interest consumers so far uninterested in Windows 8, retailers weren’t optimistic about the prospect.
“As it stands, no,” replied Lay, when asked if a free price tag would be enough to pull users back in. “There has been too much negative press about Windows 8. I regularly have customers looking for Windows 7 [rather than 8] based on feedback from colleagues, friends and family.
“Users either like or dislike Windows 8 and making it free is not going to move users.
“However, it will be interesting to see if the upcoming Windows 8.1 Update 1 can resolve any of this negativity – time will tell.”
Stuart Smith, director of IBA Limited, reported a similar trend in his store: “Microsoft can give Windows away for free but that does not mean that people will use the product.
“Microsoft may try to give away their products to gain market share, but if Windows 9 does not go back to a normal desktop they will continue to decline. Not all businesses want the Windows 8 interface."
Firms were similarly split when questioned whether cloud-based software based on a subscription model was likely to corner the market in the near future.
“User feedback to me still suggests people want to buy software they can own and use when they want – not tied to some recurring subscription base,” explained Baker.
“I have had several purchasers of Office 2013 actively confirm that they do not want the yearly subscription model even though the initial price is cheaper.”
A representative from Midland Computers argued: “Cloud offerings have been around for a while and will continue to grow.
“There are many vendors that already subscribe to cloud-only offerings. It depends on the product and customer and ultimately being able to advertise the correct solution for them.
“It’s certainly an exciting time.”