Windows 10 Anniversary Update gives OEMs the chance to jump-start PC sales

The Anniversary Update of Windows 10 gives hardware makers a chance to jump-start flagging PC sales, but only if they kit out devices to take advantage of the new operating system.

Windows Ink in action

Windows Ink in action


Let's be honest, PC sales, specifically consumer sales, have been pretty horrible for a few years now, and Microsoft deciding to offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade to all Window 7 and Windows 8.1 users didn't help things. It means that millions of PC users got their hands on the new operating system without having to spend a dime.

But things are about to change.

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The free lunch is now over, and while the 350 million or so Windows 10 PCs (or, more accurately, monthly active users) are entitled to a free upgrade to the Anniversary Update, for everyone else it's the end of the line. If you didn't grab the free upgrade then the chances are that either you don't want the new OS (and in which case you're unlikely to pay for an upgrade down the line) or the PC just didn't have enough beans under the hood to run it.

Either way, it's the end of the line, and if you want Windows 10 Anniversary Update, you're going to have to spend the money on a new PC.

And to be honest, the Anniversary Update could result in some very interesting PCs, as hardware makers leverage some of the new features.

Probably the most exciting new feature, and one most likely to boost sales, is Windows Ink. Not only does this offer a productivity boost for those who spend their days in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but support from third-parties such as Adobe will have creative types interested as well.

This feature alone has the potential to create strong demand for PCs with touchscreens and pens, moving the technology out of the "nice to have" category and putting it firmly in the "must have."

Another feature that hardware makers should look to taking advantage of is Windows Hello, and Anniversary Update moves this forward from being simply a login feature to a technology that third-party applications and websites can leverage.

PCs that feature Windows Hello compatible fingerprint sensor or camera are going to transform the user experience much in much the same way as fingerprint sensors to smartphones and tablets did, and help make computing safer and more secure.

Then there's Cortana.

With a regular microphone I'd say that using Cortana is an experience that at the "annoying to OK" end of the spectrum, but with better microphones, Cortana is not only more reliable when sitting at the PC, it also works when not at the PC, potentially turning a Windows 10 Anniversary Update device into a hub much like the Amazon Echo.

The Anniversary Update also contains a number of power efficiency improvements, and while users of older hardware will still get the benefit, those running new hardware will get the most benefit.

It's my hope that OEMs take advantage of what Anniversary Update has to offer, because not only does it allow them to offer something more useful than coming out with thinner and lighter systems, Windows Ink and Windows Hello also gives Microsoft's platform a much-needed advantage over Apple and its Macs.

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