The forthcoming release of Windows 10 is an absolutely critical piece of software for Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT); arguably the most important problems in the entire history of the corporation. This is due to the fact that Windows 8 was a massive failure, both in critical and commercial terms, and Microsoft knows only too well that it needs regain its mojo in the operating systems marketplace to cope with the demands of a shifting computing landscape.

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With the increasing importance of mobile devices, Windows 8 had been intended to provide a multi-platform release for Microsoft that was all things to all people. But as it turned out, the reviled software merely alienated and antagonized its key desktop audience, and Microsoft has had to absurd the extremely negative feedback that it received, and rectify this with its approach to Windows 10.

Windows 10 pricing model

This has led to a lot of debates about the pricing model for Windows 10. Some analysts have even speculating that the flagship operating system could be given away free, with Microsoft charging uses for specific aspects of functionality. The Microsoft hierarchy has refused to discuss pricing for Windows 10, but it has recently given an indication that the program won’t be offered to consumers for free.

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Speaking at the Credit Suisse technology conference in San Francisco, Microsoft’s Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner indicated that the company doesn’t see Windows 10 as being a loss leader, which would obviously indicate that the corporation intends to charge some form of price to purchase the software package. However, more innovative pricing than previous Windows iterations is more than possible, and it will certainly be worth keeping an eye on what Microsoft’s intentions are with this product.

Although it remains Microsoft’s most iconic piece of software, in fact Windows hasn’t been its biggest earner for quite some time. According to Turner, Windows is currently in third place in revenue terms for the software powerhouse, trailing in the bronze medal position behind Office and enterprise businesses.

Device deals to be extended

Turner has also suggested while speaking at the Credit Suisse conference that Microsoft will be extending deals it has previously made with manufacturers of smaller devices who currently obtain Windows for free, while simultaneously signing up for deals on Office 365 subscriptions, for example, which generate income for Microsoft. This has been a lucrative avenue for Microsoft, but Turner’s comments at the conference indicate that this will be extended further. The notion that Turner express, which is that Microsoft is intending to monetise Windows 10 differently to previous versions, gave indication of this.

Previously, manufacturers of notebook devices have been able to acquire cheaper licenses for Windows if they are willing to make Microsoft’s Bing the default search engine for the device. What Microsoft has indicated through Turner’s remarks is that this search engine war will intensify over the next few years. Of course, at this point in time Google remains hugely dominant in this field, and Microsoft can only really hope to eat into its market share, rather than becoming the dominant player.

In terms of the launch date for Windows 10, this is still very much up in the air. Previous indications have appointed to a 2015 release date, but precisely when during the next calendar year we will see this key operating system remains open to debate.

Windows 10 roadmap

However, Microsoft has recently elaborated slightly on the schedule for this key software release. Back in September, Microsoft Operating Systems Group chief Terry Myerson unveiled the initial Windows 10 roadmap. And Turner has further opened up on the subject during his comments in San Francisco.

According to Turner, Microsoft will be in a position to discuss the end-user consumer experiences related to Windows 10 sometime around the early spring of next year. He also ssignaled the intention of the corporation to stage a developer preview at some point in the summer. This would point to a late summer / early fall release date.

This is pretty much in line with previous predictions and information released by Microsoft, so while that particular date certainly can’t be carved in stone yet, it does seem increasingly likely that we are looking at a Q3 release date for Windows 10.

Further information will emerge related to Windows 10 in January, when Microsoft stages a technology preview of the Windows 10 mobile SKU that will work on Windows Phones, ARM tablets and Intel tablets. Again, this has not been concretely confirmed by the corporation itself, but sources indicate that this information will be available during an event in Redmond. The Windows developer event, Build 2015, will take place in the last week of April according to Microsoft officials.

Gargantuan software developers such as Microsoft are pretty protective of their plans for major programs, but the importance of Windows 10 has necessitated a little more transparency than usual. It will be interesting to note how well it is received when the public begins to be become privy to the software itself.

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