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Microsoft tells big biz: No free Windows 10 for you, crack wallets open

Hey, insert credit card, check out our new update system, says Redmond

Microsoft has confirmed that, unlike your average Alice and Bob, enterprises won't get a free upgrade to Windows 10 when the new operating system is finally released.

"Customers running Windows 7 Pro and Windows 8/8.1 Pro, like small businesses, have an opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 for free in the first year," said Jim Alkove, head of the Windows enterprise management team.

"Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise are not included in the terms of free Windows 10 Upgrade offer we announced last week, given active Software Assurance customers will continue to have rights to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer – while also benefitting from the full flexibility to deploy Windows 10 using their existing management infrastructure."

Microsoft is still very keen to get businesses to upgrade, particularly the long tail of people still using XP – so it has rolled out two new operating system servicing plans to make life easier for firms thinking about an upgrade - Long Term Servicing Branch and the Current Branch for Business.

The Long Term Servicing Branch is designed for companies that will be using Windows 10 for long-term installations, usually in backend systems. Such users don’t want all the latest and greatest features, preferring stability, so will only be getting security and critical updates.

Current Branch for Business is what the majority of enterprise customers will be expected to sign up for. This also installs critical patches and security fixes automatically, but also includes feature upgrades that IT managers can install at their leisure when they choose to.

So Microsoft's strategy seems to be pushing out new features to consumers as soon as they are tested. Enterprises can then wait and see what borks what, then add in features as they like once stability has been proven.

Of course, most consumers aren't going to be paying for Windows 10. Instead it appears that enterprises will be coughing up to keep Microsoft's coffers full.

"Somebody has to pay the bill," Wes Miller, analyst at Direction on Microsoft, told The Register. "We're trying to figure out how consumers get a one-size-fits-all OS and features as fast as possible at a quality bar that businesses wouldn't tolerate. Business wants to get features when they are ready for them, and will pay for it." ®

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