Confusion Over Windows 10’s ‘Free’ Upgrades

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Late last week, it seemed as if Microsoft was ready to give Windows 10 away for free to virtually anyone with a pulse.

In a corporate blog posting that originally went up June 19, Gabe Aul, an engineering general manager for Microsoft’s Operating Systems group, suggested that anyone running the Windows 10 Insider Preview (Home and Pro editions) would “receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated.”

That made a lot of people think they’d receive a free copy of Windows 10 in exchange for using the Beta (and presumably reporting every bug they found to Microsoft). The Internet buzzed with confusion for the entire weekend, eventually forcing Microsoft to update Aul’s posting in a way that’s finally clear (as well as devastating to anyone who thought they’d get the new operating system for nothing.)

“This is not a path to attain a license for Windows XP or Windows Vista systems,” read the clarification. “If your system upgraded from a Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license it will remain activated, but if not, you will be required to roll back to your previous OS version or acquire a new Windows 10 license.” Anyone who doesn’t acquire a new license will see the build expire at some point.

Windows 8 not only failed to overtake the market-share of Windows 7, but also struggled to surpass the decade-old Windows XP. In the wake of that fiasco, Microsoft needs Windows 10 to prove a massive hit, which is why it’s been so aggressive about offering free upgrades (at least for the first year of release) to anyone who owns a copy of Windows 7 or 8.

While all those free upgrades will cost Microsoft significant revenue, CEO Satya Nadella likely thinks he can profit in the long run if Windows 10 eventually becomes the dominant operating system on desktops and laptops, while making noticeable inroads into mobile devices.

Despite the new clarification over Microsoft’s definition of “free,” systems administrators and others tasked with helping manage Windows-centric offices will likely face more questions about upgrading to Windows 10 as its July 29 release date approaches. Be prepared.

10 Responses to “Confusion Over Windows 10’s ‘Free’ Upgrades”

  1. Jim R

    That’s NOT the way I saw it explained. The Win 10 was FREE and wouldn’t cost a cent. Now its NOT free? Microsoft shouldn’t post on line if they don’t know for sure that statements aren’t correct.

  2. Its very simple, if you have a legal copy of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 you will a free update to Windows 10.

    The preview versions of 10 do not qualify.

    Look for the GWX icon (it has the windows logo) in your system tray after you have the most current updates. Click on it to reserve your update. Note: computers part of a Windows domain do not qualify. Windows domains are usually a work place global login and networking environment.

  3. Oh_that_stupid_guy

    Nothing is ever free. If I went for the free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, I would likely have to throw away my printer, my scanner, possibly the modem. A bunch of older programs would stop working. That’s the way it was with Win 95, with Windows XP, and with Windows 7. Has Microsoft learned from this, and has it become more responsive to what customers would like?
    Very doubtful. Tracking down drivers to older peripherals takes a week, uninstalling and reinstalling other programs takes another week. That’s why I stay away from unnecessary upgrades.

  4. maguro_01

    Re the free Win 10 for Win 7, 8 licensees: Read the Win 10 license before you click on it. It reads like it completely excludes any business use of it. People don’t read those things, they just click and proceed. But the license as worded does not permit BYOD, business homework, or home or small businesses. Zip. Email to Granny, kids homework, streaming legal music etc, that’s about it.

    Does that mean that the “free” Win 10 as an update, in my case for Win 7 Pro, is bait and switch for later? What does Win 10 Enterprise cost? The license also mentions not using pieces of Word code just included in Win 10 for business. Where is that? Edge and their email client? If we use a different browser and email client can we escape using Word code?

    Does anyone have any insights for this?

  5. cereal killer

    I have hacked every version for free so I might buy 10…
    The Edge… It’s like the Drs office…
    I like the mounting of iso files. FINALLY!
    The 30 minute install that was pretty painless. I have an unverified Dell system but it works nicely.
    I don’t like how it wants the email and password at first ” for you” but I didn’t get to any server info for the pop account settings.