Microsoft, corporate bully, evil monopolist, purveyor of buggy virus-ridden software and gargantuan money-making machine, is about to make the Windows 7 May “release candidate” OS entirely free to download, and functional until June 2010. Wait…what!?
I’m confused: doesn’t Microsoft love to screw people out of money to pay for its below-par operating system merely because sheer inertia means “it’s the one everybody uses?”
Well, yes. Of course it does, if you buy into that dark view of the company–but that’s not the point here. The move to get what amounts to a free next-gen Windows operating system out and in the public’s hands is actually quite generous. After all, a release candidate package is a piece of software that’s practically ready to go on the shelves, and Microsoft’s even pledged that users who opt for the free Win 7 RC will get full download/upgrade support throughout the life of the test-version OS.
But there’s the point–it is still a test version. Under the guise of “goodwill,” essentially Microsoft is going to have millions of people testing and bug-trapping its software, extensively and exhaustively, for free. Releasing it as a test version also lets Microsoft get away with a variety of incompatible hardware and software issues under the guise of it not being finished yet. Since it’s a test-version, you’d be wise not to trust critical home or business hardware to the OS–it’s likely not going to be as stable as the “real thing.” When the trial period is up, the Seattle giant clearly also hopes you’ll be bought-in to the OS enough to go out and purchase a fully-fledged copy for hard cash.
Above all, this move is clearly a sign Microsoft is absolutely desperate to put the miseries of Vista behind it. It might even be seen that Microsoft’s slightly worried about how successful Apple has been at weathering the economic storm–and that the next-gen OS X “Snow Leopard,” due soon, may be a big threat to Windows’ market dominance. Whatever it is, if you’re interested, the OS will be available May 5th.