The free Windows 10 upgrade could be a real revenue earner for PC retailers, some store owners have told PCR, while others are sceptical that it may dent sales of new systems.
Reaction has been largely mixed from independent tech retailers, multiples, system builders and etailers.
Many store owners and buyers told PCR that Microsoft offering a free Windows 10 upgrade for a year to existing users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 will give them a new revenue stream, as it will allow retailers to sell upgrades/OS migrations to their customers - or sell them a new machine and then offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade.
“I think it's great," Utopia Computers' director Craig Hume said. "Initially we thought we’d make less money without the sales of the software itself, but actually we can get the upgrade labour. So we can advertise to say ‘we’ll make sure you’re all your pictures and documents move across to Windows 10, but there will be a charge for that’. So retailers have got quite a good opportunity with Windows 10."
Dabs.com product manager Duncan Rutherford added: "Any release of a new Windows product is exciting news. In this instance where it’s free for one year for existing users, it does pose a challenge for operating system sales, however it gives us the chance to sell hardware now that will be eligible for upgrade – while still having the chance to sell Windows 10 systems complete to customers upon release."
Another retailer, taking part in PCR's annual retail survey anonymously, added: "Having that OS transition is a good thing and I think we'll be able to build our server and support business. I think the advantage of it is that it gives you a dialogue with the customer."
However, other retailers weren't best pleased with the news.
"So basically Microsoft will hurt those that took the flack last year with Office 365, despite how they like to make out how they want to increase the bonds between them and the indies," commented Paul Winnie Cutts from Daycall Components. "I'm disgusted with the treatment to the indies. Shame on Microsoft."
Another indie added anonymously: "The free Windows 10 will dent sales as it doesn't give anyone an incentive to buy a new laptop."
One store owner told PCR: "It's very worrying, as Microsoft seem to want to control all customer contacts. Although they are not charging for the OS, after the first year they will, and this will mean customers returning to Microsoft - not us as a retailer."
Another added that while they may 'lose margin' in the short term, in the long run it will benefit their business as Windows 10 will help drive renewed interest in PCs, and bring more customers to them overall.
A large number of retailers said they don't think the free Windows 10 upgrade will affect them, or that it is too early to predict what will happen once the OS launches later this year.
YoYoTech MD CK commented: "There’s no concrete evidence around how it will work yet, and how system integrators will work with it. But with it being free, I also think it will help get rid of pirated copies."
"Let's see what happens after the first year - if and how it will be charged," one indie commented.
Read more retailer views on Windows 10 in the upcoming March issue of PCR