Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be free for users upgrading from Windows 7 and 8. There is an asterisk behind that statement however, and depending on your world-view, it’s a big one. First off, it won’t be free forever – only for a year after its release. It’s not clear what that means if, for example, after upgrading your Windows 7 machine to 10, you need to wipe the hard drive and reinstall. Do you have to reinstall 7 first and then upgrade to 10? Is there a cost if that happens after that initial year has lapsed? Microsoft has also been deliberately vague on what this means for enterprises and organizations with large installations of 7 or 8. Do they get it for free?
What this means for you:
Some experienced industry analysts predict that there will probably be a different “flavor” for the corporate world, especially as Windows 10 will come hard-coded with Microsoft’s new update/upgrade “Windows as a Service” model where improvements and fixes will come at a more rapid pace than most IT organizations have traditionally been willing to follow, and that “versions will no longer matter.” While this might sound like music to the average consumer’s ears, trends like this are rarely viewed favorably in tightly controlled IT environments, especially when it means maintaining compatibility with legacy apps and systems. Microsoft is still fuzzy on when Windows 10 will arrive – “later this year” is the current expectation, but you can bet that most large enterprises and organizations will probably forgo an immediate upgrade, as they have traditionally done for previous iterations of Windows. If you want to see Windows 10 right away there is a preview build which is still in very early development, but unless you are a stalwart early adopter and understand the pitfalls that lie ahead, I’d recommend waiting until it’s officially released. You can also watch Microsoft’s 2+ hour long presentation on the latest build of Windows 10 online.