“So when does Windows 10 come out?” must have been one of the most asked questions since the Technical Preview was released in October last year. When Microsoft announced Windows 10 would be a free upgrade, people weren’t quite sure how exactly that would work. Meanwhile, testers have been wondering whether the preview will expire. Answers for all these questions are slowly becoming clearer.
Windows 10 Release Date
It was AMD CEO Lisa Su who leaked the information that Windows 10 is expected to be released in July 2015. While, a Microsoft programmer confirmed the leak to Gizmodo, Microsoft has yet to announce the launch date officially.
Meanwhile, at BUILD 2015, Microsoft’s corporate VP Joe Belfiore described the staggered rollout for Windows 10 as a “wave of benefit that starts in the summer and increases throughout the fall .” PCs will be the first to receive the “final release” of Windows 10, followed by Windows Phones, Xbox One, Arduino, and HoloLens.
Not all Windows 10 features will be available at launch, however. After all, Windows 10 is supposed to be Microsoft’s final major operating system release, which instead will see continuous updates and improvements. We have to retire the idea of a “final release candidate” because Windows 10 will never be done.
Free Windows 10 Upgrade
Microsoft is hoping for a wide adoption of Windows 10. By eliminating multiple versions of the operating system and uniting everything under one umbrella, they will increase brand identity, security, and ultimately their market. Since Windows 7 remains the most popular desktop operating system with a 58% market share, this is the prime audience for a Windows 10 upgrade .
Upgrading to Windows 10 will be free for one year following the release for users who own licenses of non-enterprise editions of Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1. The upgrade is being delivered through Windows Update. If you’re currently using an operating system that qualifies, you should be able to find the Windows 10 downloader, a recommended update named KB3035583, in your list of updates.
Download Windows 10
At this point, users can only download Technical preview builds via Windows Insider. Microsoft is expected to offer ISO file downloads, which will be free for users who own a valid license for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Details should be made available this summer.
Expiry Dates for the Technical Preview
Technical Preview Builds, now known as Insider Previews, will eventually expire. A Microsoft Support Engineer outlined the expiration dates for build numbers up to 10049. Two weeks prior, users will be reminded and asked to upgrade to a newer build. Once the license has expired, the system will automatically reboot every three hours. For Build 10049, that date is October 15, 2015. About two weeks after that date, the build will not even boot.
Users who missed to upgrade and can no longer boot into their Technical Preview will need to download ISO files on a separate computer, create Windows boot media, and run the installation.
Upgrading from the Technical Preview to Windows 10
When asked about this option, Gabe Aul replied on Twitter that it’s Microsoft’s intent to allow testers to upgrade directly from the Technical Preview. Aul first made this statement back in December and has repeated it several times since.
@JonRohrich No, our intent is to allow you to upgrade all the way to the final.
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) April 30, 2015
It’s unlikely that users of the Technical Preview will have to do a clean install, but it’s still a possibility. Even if users will be able to directly upgrade to the final version, testers might not get a free ride. They might still have to unlock the upgrade with the license of a qualifying Windows version.
Update: In a Twitter Q&A Gabe Aul clarified that Windows Insiders who are currently testing the Windows 10 Technical Preview will indeed need a qualifying Windows license in order to upgrade to the final version of Windows 10.
@ImXeeon It will be a free upgrade from a valid Win7 or 8.x license, within the first year of release.
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) May 11, 2015
If you are testing Windows 10 TP on a device that stores licensing information in the UEFI BIOS, you should automatically qualify. How this will work in various other scenarios, for example if you are dual booting the TP next to Windows 8.1, remains unclear.
Interestingly, the final version of Windows 10 will continue deliver updates to Windows Insiders first, before deploying them to a wider audience.
@RafaelMateusM Both. You'll upgrade to final version, and have the option to stay there or to keep getting new builds as an Insider.
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) May 5, 2015
It will be interesting to see how this affects Patch Tuesday as it’s neither in Microsoft’s nor its users’ best interest to make security relevant updates public and at the same time delay their global implementation. Our guess is that only optional and feature updates will be made available for beta testing to Windows Insiders before a final release.
Downgrading to Your Old Windows Version
Microsoft will encourage users to upgrade their old Windows operating system to Windows 10. If you’re smart, you’ll try Windows 10 before committing to an upgrade because it’s easier to dual boot Windows 10 next to your old Windows, than to downgrade in case you don’t like Windows 10. Note that the option of installing a dual boot may expire once the final release of Windows 10 is out, so it’s best to try it now!
Downgrading will be difficult, but not impossible, provided you have prepared boot media (see link above) and know the product key of your old Windows version. Rather than removing the upgrade to Windows 10, you will probably need to re-install Windows 7 or 8, then opt out of the upgrade delivered through Windows Update.
Future Updates to Windows 10
As mentioned above, Windows 10 will be the final major release and in Microsoft’s perfect world, all other versions of Windows, at least for desktop devices and consumers, will disappear. Of course Windows 10 will still require security and other updates.
Updates will be deployed automatically, much like in Chrome or OS X. Version numbers will probably be under the hood and major upgrades may be identified with popular names. Mary J Foley reported that a 2016 upgrade is codenamed Redstone. This was recently confirmed by Microsoft designer Jeff Fong, who shared screenshots of the upgrade .
Any Questions Left?
Microsoft is trying to simplify things with Windows 10, applying a process which, for people who are used to the old ways, may seem complicated. It’s very straightforward, though. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s end game and it’s coming to a computer near you this summer. Will you be upgrading?