It's Official: Windows 10 Free For Many Users

John Lister's picture

It's official: Microsoft says that Windows 10 will be free of charge -- but the offer comes with limitations and caveats.

The free upgrade offer is part of what could be the biggest change to the Windows business model, ever. Microsoft's comments at a launch event this week have been interpreted by some analysts as meaning Windows 10 may also be the last major release of the operating system. Instead, Windows may receive more frequent, but less substantial updates in the future.

The Windows 10 free upgrade deal will only apply to consumer versions of Windows 7 (Service Pack 1) and Windows 8 (with Windows 8.1 installed). In order to get the free offer, users will have to upgrade their current operating system within the first year of the official Windows 10 release. After that, there will most likely be a charge, though it's not yet known what fees are involved.

Pricing for business users will be revealed later.

Windows 10 Free Updates Could Run For Years

Microsoft says that with the free upgrade to Windows 10, users will also receive Windows updates for the "supported lifetime" of the device. While the full details of this offer are not yet revealed, it appears to imply that updates will continue for a fixed period of time, or until the user replaces the device -- whichever happens first. (Source:

It's also suggested that Windows 10 update support goes well beyond Microsoft's previous practice of issuing Windows updates for approximately 5 years after an operating system's initial release. In theory, it could mean that people who upgrade to Windows 10 would be eligible for free upgrades to any future editions of Windows, including Windows 11, for example.

Windows 10 "As a Service"

Perhaps the most speculation about Windows 10 is in regard to its successor.

Microsoft operating system chief Terry Myerson says that "we think of Windows 10 as a service." That statement has has prompted wide speculation from analysts, suggesting that there may never be a successor to Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft may simply roll out minor updates to its operating system in a way many developers do with applications, such as Google's Chrome Browser. (Source:

That would be a revolutionary change for Microsoft as, coupled with recent reports that manufacturers may pay little if any fees to install Windows 10, it's likely Microsoft's revenue from sales of Windows will plummet in future years.

Instead, it's suggested that Microsoft will concentrate on making its money from business users, subscriptions to online editions of its applications such as Office, and from commission from sales through the Windows app store. That would bring its PC business much closer to the model used in tablets and smartphone, particularly that of Apple.

What's Your Opinion?

Will you be taking advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10? How long do you expect the "supported lifetime" offer to last? Has Microsoft made a smart move by heavily downplaying sales revenue from Windows?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Cloud computing and charging subscription fees for software as a service (SaaS) is definitely here to stay. With other companies like Google and Apple offering their operating system updates for free, there is no way that Microsoft can continue to compete using their old business model by charging for updates every few years. In that respect, I think Microsoft has made the right move. That said, I'm very curious to know what future implications "Windows 10 as a service" will have in the grand scheme of things. It wouldn't surprised me to see Windows being offered as SaaS at some point, especially to business users.

directemailaddress_4016's picture

That is wonderful news. I hated the cost of upgrading to a new OS. Didn't make sense to me to pay that much! It is about time Microsoft wised up. I would pay a small fee to get the new Windows 10 if need be. Better than paying $100+ for it!

dnmurph's picture

hope this is different that Win 8 - had bought the disk and month later they started with the online download of win 8.1 - still not sure what will happen if I have to re-install.

nate04pa's picture

I have read several online reports about the Windows 10 update being free for Win 7 and Win 8.x users. What I haven't seen is what will happen to your programs and data files.

When Win 8 came out, Win 7 users could update and everything would carry over to the new OS - programs, settings, data files (an in-place upgrade). I verified that this was the case on my laptop. However, when 8.1 came out you could not do this in-place upgrade. I had to first install Win 8.0 and then go through the Store to upgrade to 8.1. Just another dagger stuck into 8.1!

The amount of time it takes to reinstall programs and get them running correctly will exceed the time it takes to install Win 10 by several fold. IMHO unless you can do an in-place upgrade, there will be reluctance to install Win 10 regardless of the improvements it contains.

diddleyman666's picture

I agree with the need for an in-place upgrade, although I didn't even bother with Windows 8, which appeared to be designed more for tablets or phones than laptops and I was happy with 7. Before upgrading to 10 ,I also would need to know if it is possible and (hopefully) easy to uninstall Windows 10 if you decide it's a dog, and whether there will be many compatibility issues with Windows 7-friendly programs. Wouldn't want to jump on the bandwagon without knowing these things, even if it is free.

blueboxer2's picture

I think if I have a year in which to see Win 10 in action and see what the enthusiast world has to say about it, and it looks attractive, and if I can do an in-place upgrade over my Windows 7 install, and if it has no hardware demands I can't meet, and if it will play happily with my existing Win 7 programs, then I will most seriously take a look at it.
If any of my other, XP computers can meet the requirements, I have a legal Win 8 DVD which perhaps I could install, upgrade to Win 8.1, then replace that with Windows 10. If it looks worth the hassle.
But obviously investing the time and trouble looks much more attractive if Win 10 can be installed in place, for free!

pc7wizard_3730's picture

I will have to create a bare machine with Win 7 Pro SP1 on it, then check out Win 10.

I do not like automatic updates, do manual with all 4 machines. So, the jury is still out on Win 10.

This may be the best time for the user base to switch to Linux!!!

Douglas Godbey's picture

As an old computerist, I have a deep disregard for 'solutions' that place critical parts of my system's environment outside my reach. All it would take is a determined hacker to break into a cloud and destroy it if not swipe Gigabytes of important data. Now here's a chance our systems will need to download OS modules while running, computing on demand? Sorry Microsoft, I don't trust your operations and security models.