The final version of Windows will be released on July 29th, but not everyone will be able to upgrade on launch day.
Not only is the free Windows 10 upgrade restricted to a subset of existing users, Microsoft also won’t be able to upgrade all eligible devices simultaneously. Should you be eligible, you might also wonder which version of Windows 10 you will be upgraded to and what that means.
We have compiled the answers to the most frequently asked questions around Windows 10 and its release.
Why Should I Upgrade to Windows 10?
Windows 10 is a state-of-the-art operating system with innovative features, improved security, and a fresh look. Those of you eager to try Cortana, make the best use of a touch interface, or universal Windows apps that run on the desktop should probably give Windows 10 a try.
Never fix a running system! If you’re prefectly happy with your current setup, if you use the Windows Media Center, or if you can’t help weighing the pros and cons of Windows 10, you probably shouldn’t upgrade, at least not right away. Windows 10 isn’t all that free, but unless you want to switch to OS X or Linux, you won’t be able to avoid it in the long term. Meanwhile, you have until July 2016 to change your mind about Windows 10 and take the plunge.
Can I Upgrade to Windows 10?
The free upgrade is restricted to non-enterprise users of Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update 1. Your hardware should not be a limiting factor, as the requirements are similar to Windows 7. In other words, if you run Windows 7 or up, your computer should be compatible with Windows 10.
What Edition of Windows 10 Will I Upgrade To?
Windows 10 editions are similar to Windows 7 and 8 and you will upgrade to what’s equivalent to your current Windows edition. The upgrade matrix below reveals details. If you can upgrade directly, you will be able to keep your Windows settings, personal files, and most apps.
Microsoft also released a set of checklists that will help you choose which Windows edition is right for you. Note a single of the listed features is missing in any of the editions. Looks like the take home message is that each and every Windows edition will contain the same major features.
Of course that’s not the entire truth. The Home edition will lack Domain join, Group Policy, BitLocker, Remote Desktop, and several other business-related features.
The main difference between editions is the way how Windows Update will work. Home users won’t have any choice–all updates will be installed automatically. Pro users can delay updates, but they cannot be selective and they can’t defer them. Finally, Education and Enterprise users on the Long Term Servicing Branch will be able to install updates selectively.
Note that Windows Insiders can receive updates before anyone else.
What Will Windows 10 Cost?
In case you’re eligible, upgrading to Windows 10 will be free for the supported lifetime of the device you’re upgrading on. The term “supported lifetime” has received some critique. ComputerWorld reports that Microsoft’s definition is two to four years and it’s unclear what will happen after that time. You might have to pay for upgrades after that; we don’t know at this point.
If you’d rather buy a full Windows 10 license and be done with it, Newegg accidentally leaked that Windows 10 will cost between $100 and $150, depending on what edition you’re buying. Maybe a free upgrade isn’t that after all, right?
Note that if you don’t have a system that qualifies for a free upgrade, you can always get a cheap Windows 7 or 8 license to upgrade from.
How Does The Upgrade Work?
If you’re eager to upgrade to Windows 10 as soon as possible, we recommend you register for the upgrade using the Get Windows 10 app, which you should see in your system tray on eligible versions of Windows 7 and 8.1. If you think you should be able to uprade for free, but don’t see the app, follow our troubleshooting guide on how to activate the Get Windows 10 notification.
The app will download the installation files to your computer prior to July 29th. Windows 10 will not be installed automatically! Once your system is ready to upgrade, you can activate the installation or–if you choose to–do nothing and wait.
We are not sure what will happen after July 29th. You may still be able to use the Get Windows 10 app, or you might see the upgrade option in Windows Update, or maybe you can download the Windows 10 installation files using your Windows 7 or 8 product key.
How Can I Cancel the Windows 10 Upgrade?
Have you changed your mind and would now prefer to cancel the Windows 10 upgrade you signed up for? No problem! Simply launch the Get Windows 10 app from your system tray, click the hamburger icon, find the View confirmation option, and click Cancel reservation twice. Now Windows 10 won’t auto-download to your computer.
Note that you can also get rid of the upgrade notification on Windows 7 and 8. You can either hide the icon from the system tray or uninstall the optional Windows Updates that pushed the Get Windows 10 app onto your computer in the first place. If you don’t want to mess with Windows Update yourself, you can use a removal tool called I Don’t Want Windows 10.
When Will I Receive Windows 10?
Windows 10 will be released as a rolling upgrade. Consequently, most users who signed up for the upgrade won’t actually receive Windows 10 on launch day, July 29th. Microsoft will upgrade those devices first that have been shown to be compatible with Windows 10. They might also upgrade Home users first because it means they can quickly push updates and fixes out; Pro, Education, and Enterprise users can delay updates.
This is what Terry Myerson wrote in a recent Microsoft blog post:
Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders. From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th. Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.
If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system. If your system is not ready yet for your upgrade to Windows 10, we will provide more details during the upgrade experience.
How Can I Get Windows 10 on July 29th?
You have two options. Either you buy a new device that comes pre-installed with Windows 10 (although it looks like none will be available on July 29th) or you upgrade from the Windows 10 Insider Preview. If you are eligible for a free upgrade, we recommend the latter. You can install the Windows 10 Insider Preview as a dual boot.
To download the Windows 10 Insider Preview, you will need a Microsoft account to sign up for the Windows Insider program. Make sure you use that same Microsoft account to log into Windows 10, otherwise you won’t be able to upgrade to the final version.
Update: Insider Preview ISO downloads will be taken down on July 14.
Any Questions Left?
Tech media is currently full of Windows 10 coverage. It feels like every single feature, issue, and hypothesis is being discussed. But maybe we’re missing something after all!
Do you feel fully informed about Windows 10 and have you reserved your upgrade? Which of your questions remain unanswered? Let us know how we can help and we’ll give it our best!