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Free Windows? Not a chance

Gregg Keizer | Dec. 9, 2014
No 'loss leader,' says Microsoft COO; Windows 10 slated for release in late summer, early fall 2015.

Microsoft typically reaches the "release to manufacturing," or RTM milestone approximately two months before an OS is released to the public. RTM is a term Microsoft uses to define code that's completed and ready to ship to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) for installation on new devices. In other words, the previous schedule may have alluded to an RTM timeline, while Turner's was to a public launch.

Turner also reiterated what other Microsoft executives have said, that the firm would next unveil a consumer-oriented preview, although he used the phrase "early spring" to describe the timing. Previously, "early 2015" had been Microsoft's timetable.

The COO's timeline is important if Microsoft hopes to make next year's back-to-school selling season, which the company's OSes have regularly missed.

At one point, when the talk -- unconfirmed by Microsoft -- was that Windows 10 would release before mid-year, analysts applauded because it would put the new operating system on devices in time to make back-to-school, the second largest U.S. sales season for consumer PCs.

Turner's schedule now makes that unlikely, although Windows 10 could make the tail end of back-to-school, which traditionally ends in early September. Instead, it firmly plants Windows 10 in sync with Microsoft's traditional three-year launch cycle -- like 2012's Windows 8 and 2009's Windows 7 -- for making the fourth quarter and its high-water mark of consumer device sales.

Some analysts had predicted that a while ago. "We'll probably see Windows 10 pre-loaded on devices for the holidays next year, said Michael Silver of Gartner in October.

Among the other subjects Turner touched on was the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft's tablet-that-wants-to-be-a-notebook. "Surface Pro 3 is just a home run for us from a device perspective," said Turner at one point. A little later, when asked what marks Microsoft wanted to hit in the next 12 months, Turner added, "We want to continue to see Surface Pro 3 do well."

Turner's use of "home run" to describe the Surface Pro 3 may have been his way of comparing that model to its predecessors -- by all accounts it has sold better than the earlier tablets in the line -- but sounded hyperbolic nonetheless. Microsoft did record a profit on the Surface line for the first time in the third quarter, but likely sold fewer than one million devices in that three-month stretch, far from a sales homer in either the personal computer or tablet markets.

A transcript of Turner's commentary has been published on Microsoft's website in Word document format, and can be read from within a browser using the Word app of Office Online.


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