Free Windows 10 upgrade. Really?

A little while back Microsoft announced that, when the new version of Windows come out, they will give it free of charge to anyone with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on their current machine. Now some PC users are beginning to see an enticing little button, urging them to ‘reserve’ their copy of Windows 10.

So should you take advantage of the offer and reserve your copy? That’s easy – yes and no. Read on…

Is it as FREE as it seems?

Yes, for the first year after launch, they’ll give you it completely free for the lifetime of the product. Anyone not taking advantage of the offer in the first year, will have to pay the normal price if they subsequently decide to update.

Do I really need it?

Difficult question… Windows 7 is now ‘out of support’, which means they will only be issuing critical security updates for the remaining life of the product. Windows 8, which replaced it, was truly horrific for anyone using a mouse and keyboard (although marginally better on tablets). Windows 10 – which I’ve been testing for the past few months – is better by far than Windows 8 and, although it has some differences to Windows 7, would be straightforward for a Windows 7 user to pick up.

I like using Windows 7 and it gives me all I need.

Windows 10 ought also to be quicker and more secure than Windows 7 so, on balance at the moment, I’m recommending my customers to upgrade. Eventually.

No ifs, no buts?

HOWEVER, there is one big ‘But’. Don’t touch it for six months after it comes out! Let everyone else deal with inevitable teething problems and bugs. I’ll probably install it on an old workhorse machine when it comes out, so that I can offer guidance to any early adopters, but I won’t start upgrading any of my ‘serious use’ machines for about four months. By the time the six months has elapsed, I’ll know the ins-and-outs of the upgrade process: how long it takes; is it a job that I would consider carrying out at a customer’s premises or would it be less costly to do it in my workshop; what are the security and privacy implications; are all the usual programs my customers use compatible, and so on.

I know from my visits to people who have upgraded their Windows 8 machines to Windows 8.1 that many of them have adopted the ‘Microsoft recommended’ settings and are consequently sharing far more with Microsoft than they actually need to, which troubles my paranoid nature. I’ll be digging into those aspects closely before I advise anyone to go ahead with the upgrade.

My understanding is that accepting the invitation to ‘reserve’ your upgrade will effectively start the upgrade process now but defer it until the product is available, at which point it will install more or less automatically. I would definitely advise against doing that at the moment.

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