When Microsoft first made the announcement that Windows 10 upgrades would be free, they said the offer would only be good for a year. Of course many of us wondered if they would change their mind and make upgrades free for a longer period of time. The official word has come from Microsoft that the free upgrade offer will end on July 29, 2016.
If you are running Windows 7 or 8.1 and you are eligible for an upgrade, you now have to make a decision between now and July 29 if you want a free upgrade. The right decision is very dependent on your own situation so I won’t make any suggestions for you. I can only share information about my decisions to date and the costs of the upgrades if they come after the deadline.
How do you decide? First, you need to know if your hardware will work with Windows 10. If you are using mainstream hardware that isn’t ancient, the odds are probably pretty good. Niche hardware, especially if older, is more likely to not be supported. Then you need to know if your software will work. For those who are diligent about upgrading to new versions, you’ll likely find no issues. But if you still use software more than a couple of years old, there could be problems. You have to determine if you have the hardware and software that will allow for a smooth upgrade.
First, let’s talk about the two main flavors of Windows 10 outside of huge businesses. Windows 10 Home upgrades will cost $119 and Windows 10 Pro upgrades will cost $199. If you take advantage of the free upgrade, you will receive the version of Windows 10 that corresponds to the version of Windows you are currently running. Users with a Pro version of Windows 7 or 8.1 would get Windows 10 Pro for free if they upgrade before the deadline.
In our office, there are a total of four computers in active use. One is the newer laptop that came with Windows 10. The laptop it replaced is running Windows 8.1 Pro. There are also two desktops which run Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 7 Pro. So we have to decide if we want to upgrade now for free or delay upgrading and spend $199 if we decide to upgrade any of the computers after the deadline.
I decided to upgrade the old laptop as a test. If disaster happened and the laptop needed to be setup from scratch, nothing would be lost other than time. From the time I told it to start, it took around two and a half hours to download and install Windows 10 Pro on the laptop. There were a couple of very minor glitches after the upgrade, but the install went flawlessly. I’m still not a fan of the “new” Start menu (see Windows 10 Start Menu Was a Non-Starter For Me for details) so I will install a replacement in the near future. As this computer isn’t actively used, there isn’t urgency to do this. For those who love the new Start menu, I’m glad you like it. This is a personal preference and I hate it.
This leaves two desktop computers in our office that are running older operating systems and these computers are the primary computers used to run the day-to-day business. If there are any problems upgrading, it would be a serious disruption to our business. I will likely upgrade the computer running Windows 8.1 in the near future. If that goes smoothly, I’ll consider upgrading the computer running Windows 7 Pro though I would probably wait until much closer to the deadline.