Windows 10 - Will it Be Free?

Category: Windows-10

Will Windows 10 fix everything that was wrong with Windows 8? What new features will be in the Next Big Thing from Microsoft? And will you really get Windows 10 for free? Read on for the scoop…

What's Coming in Windows 10?

Microsoft held a 2 hour, 15 minute press conference on January 21 to tell the eager world everything it wanted to know about Windows 10… except when the next-generation operating system will be released. “Later this year” remains the official estimate.

The release date of Windows 10 may be vague because there are so many cooks in the kitchen. About 1.7 million people have downloaded the Win 10 developer preview and generated 800,000 bits of feedback on 200,000 topics, according to the company. That many suggestions will confuse any development effort even if none of them end up in the final product.

Windows 10 Desktop

But it’s likely that a lot of feedback from developers will find its way into Win 10 because they are the group that will make or break this product. Developers got their Windows 10 infomercial in October; this January show was aimed at consumers. Not enterprise IT managers with their boring focus on management, security, and standardization, but average consumers who want the comfort of the familiar and the excitement of the novel. Here’s what Microsoft promised them:

First, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for end users who have Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. That offer will stand for one year after the eventual release of Win 10. (Presumably those still running XP or Vista will have to pay to move to Windows 10.) Microsoft hopes to quickly whet developers’ appetites with lots of Windows 10 converts. Also, Windows 10 is the gateway to Microsoft OneDrive, Office 365, and the other components of Nadella’s “cloud-first” mantra.

Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri “personal digital assistant,” will be coming to Windows 10. Actually, Cortana lives in the cloud, interacting with you through all of your connected devices to learn as much as possible about you; just so she can help you better, you understand. On a PC, Cortana will be able to do things she can’t do on a phone, such as open a Powerpoint presentation. But don’t expect perfection; when asked who will win the Super Bowl, Cortana chose Seattle by seventy-eight and a half.

A Seamless Experience Across Devices

On tablets, Windows 10 looks like a scaled-down desktop version. There’s a taskbar, a desktop mode, and all the regular Windows apps, optimized for touchscreens. Task-switching for apps has been improved and the Charms bar is gone, replaced with a Notification Center and quicker access to settings.

Oh, and the Start Menu is back by popular demand, but the Windows 8 Start Screen is also available if you prefer it.

The merging of desktop and handheld user interfaces mirrors Microsoft’s “unified Office” effort. Office 365 will make the same apps and data available on all of your devices. Microsoft ran a Powerpoint presentation on a phone during Tuesday’s event, and said you can print documents wirelessly from a phone or tablet with Windows 10. There are unconfirmed rumors that Windows 10 will have a featured called Continuum, which will allow users to switch between desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone, picking up right where they left off. (If you have a Kindle, you're familiar with this concept.)

The good news for gamers is that Windows 10 will support streaming any Xbox One game to any PC or tablet. Gamers are no longer tied to the Xbox console; with a tablet, they can fetch their own Cheetos and Dr. Peppers. Two (only two?) players can play a multi-player game with one player on an Xbox One and the other on a PC.

Spartan, Microsoft’s faster, sleeker browser, will join Internet Explorer in Windows 10’s release-to-manufacturing debut, but it won’t be available in phones initially. Its demo was pretty cool, showing off the ability to annotate any Web page with keyboard or stylus and save the results to OneNote. “Reading mode” displays just the text of an article, stripped of images and videos; IE for Windows 8.1 has something similar, and so does Apple’s Safari. Cortana is present in Spartan, making available additional information about items on a Web page.

Windows as a Service?

Terry Myerson, Microsoft's VP of Operating Systems has all but said that after Windows 10, the version numbers will either go away or become irrelevant.

"This is more than a one-time upgrade: once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no cost. With Windows 10, the experience will evolve and get even better over time. We’ll deliver new features when they’re ready, not waiting for the next major release. We think of Windows as a Service – in fact, one could reasonably think of Windows in the next couple of years as one of the largest Internet services on the planet. And just like any Internet service, the idea of asking 'What version are you on?' will cease to make sense."

That makes sense to me, and it seems to be an indication that Microsoft is heading in a positive direction with Windows. Bringing back the Start button and giving preference to the familiar desktop interface? Hooray! No more major releases with all the associated headaches and re-learning curves? I like that. Free upgrades from Windows 7 and 8, with no-cost updates for the life of my computer? What's not to like about that?

I'll be keeping you posted on what's coming in Windows 10. My best guess is that it'll be released to consumers in October, just like Windows 7 and 8 were. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Windows 10 - Will it Be Free?"

(See all 25 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

23 Jan 2015

So...we will get the upgrade to Windows 10 free.

When will the subscription fees start?

Posted by:

23 Jan 2015

Good synopsis of an important event coming up for we anti-Apple folks. Thanks for the information Bob.

Posted by:

23 Jan 2015

I am still hanging on with Vista NOT because I like it but because I couldn't be convinced that 7 was worth it and, more importantly because 8/8.1 is, in my view, not worth either the price or the effort. I don't use computers to do what Microsoft wants to make me do but rather to do what I want to do.

Now they will make me buy 7 just so I can get 10 or at least wait for whatever price 10 might be? I really wish I was convinced that the keylogger is, in fact, going to be removed and not just buried in the code somewhere.

Posted by:

24 Jan 2015

Seems like there are a few folk who are sceptical like myself."Microsoft gives away Operating System" What is the catch? I'm on Win 7 at the moment and I will go to Win 10, but if I'm expected to pay for it I'll swing back to 7 again as I've shelled out a decent wad of cash for it. There is still 5 years of life in it yet! Will we be able to use Win 10 as we wish, or will we be tied to Microsoft for apps etc as Apple and Google have done to smart phone OS's? Perhaps I'm being too cynical. Lets look forward to Win 10 and enjoy it.

Posted by:

24 Jan 2015

I join others in thanking you for this important info, Bob. I, too, am skeptical that MS won't find a way to charge for Windows "updates" once most users are running Windows 10. Moreover, the idea that MS can push new versions to one's devices and change the look and feel of the interface is not good news for a geezer like me who already struggles when Firefox and other browsers and applications change their interfaces and menus around update to update (seemingly for the worse in many instances). Linux, anyone?

Posted by:

24 Jan 2015

I'm an avid user of Windows 7.
To me, and many others as well, I suspect, Windows 8 has a "childish" look to it.
An endless sea of colored squares seemingly engineered for semi-illiterates?
Judging from your screenshot above, 10 is just more of the same.

Posted by:

24 Jan 2015

Man some people just can't be satisfied. A free upgrade and they still want to cry!

Posted by:

25 Jan 2015

Do you know if they will be bringing back "Media Center" as a part Windows 10? It has been a key to my DVR for several years and I'd hate to loose it.

Posted by:

25 Jan 2015

Bob, it's a great pleasure to be an avid reader. I'll say it again and again... A computer with any OS is only as good as the operator... just like a car...

Posted by:

25 Jan 2015

1: It will not be free because this is MICROSOFT.
2: Spartan will be 100% like IE and Bing.
3: If you want Xbox games on the pc, then swap the CPU for an Xbox 360.
4: Also for the Xbox stream, the 2-player mode will only work if the game supports it (Skyrim DOESN'T)
Thank you and goodbye.

Posted by:

31 Jan 2015

Thanks Bob, I too am an avid reader of your articles! I do believe that both KennyD and George's comments are right on time. I would like to add that I feel reasonably sure some people still use computers for activities other than games.

I use W8.1 on an old Dell desktop but I never see those childish, endless colored squares unless I want to go to that screen; not even when it loads up after being off. Using the old desktop with W8.1 works really well for all basic computing needs; didn't have to spend big bucks for a new computer with features I would never use. Of course it wouldn't work for gamers.

I also took an old Dell laptop running XP and installed the Linux OS, (by Zorin) on it and it too works great for basic computing needs; word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. The OS comes with a free office suite.

I've really become an Apple guy at heart though; still I think Microsoft needs to be given a chance; they do seem to be headed in a different direction than in the past.

Posted by:

Alan M
02 Feb 2015

I'm waiting for Microsoft putting all this stuff in the EULA without the "subject to change" clause.
Too much chance of Microsoft deciding to change to a subscription service after one year.
I have been taught that the most expensive things are listed as "FREE".
7 still has about 5 years of updates left. 8/8.1 has about 7 or 8 years left of updates. One year may be all you get with 10. As you can see, I expect the worst-case scenario.

Posted by:

18 Feb 2015

I have kept an old XP computer, so I could continue using certain softer. There are number of things that Window 7 & 8 doesn't offer. It doesn't look like there is much improvement with Windows 10. I would dump most of the apps on it. It is just a lot of garbage that is added to the boot-up screen. People should be able to select what apps they would use. I would love to see the way Windows Explorer is set-up.

Posted by:

20 Feb 2015

Thank you for your article but I have been left a little confused after reading various articles on Windows 10 being FREE so I have two questions:

1. If somebody downloads Win10 how do we know that Microsoft won't start charging after several months or a year of downloading to continue using it?

2. Does anybody know if people, who bought computers with Win7/8 pre-installed (OEM), can still get it free or will we have to pay to obtain it?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Why the confusion? The article states: "Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for end users who have Windows 7 or 8." And, "once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no cost."

Posted by:

20 Feb 2015

Hi Bob,
To be honest, I understand Andy68 as there has been a little confusion in some forums and websites with different interpretations of what MS meant by "Free for a year".
However, I have read somewhere (I don't remember where) that MS will exclude the computers that come from manufactures with Windows 7 and 8 already installed from the free offer but the owners will pay a small fee.
Do you know anything about this?

Posted by:

Geoff Greig
20 Feb 2015

"we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device"

I dont think I have any support for any of the "devices" I purchased. Even from the day I bought them. Does any technology manufacturer of computers, pads or phones, "support" them?

Support and warranty are two different things

Posted by:

Bob Greene
08 Mar 2015

Microsoft may set the duration of a Windows license to the "supported lifetime of the device", but that device lifetime is still arbitrary-- only what Microsoft determines it to be. That device lifetime could be even shorter than under the current system of Windows version life-cycling.

And for those who upgrade their mainboards and other computer equipment as a matter of normal routine, when does the original "device" cease to exist? Put another way, after upgrading to Windows 10, at what point in do-it-yourself modification does the original device and its Windows license simply vanish?

If Windows is now a service, and Microsoft no longer issues a perpetual license, a Windows license is never "owned", once and for all. After expiration of the device lifetime, Microsoft has two options-- a recurring charge for continued Windows service (which can be imposed at will), or forcing those with expired devices to purchase new devices in order to obtain Windows service. Obviously, Microsoft can exercise both options, with the latter course making device OEMs perpetually happy.

Who said dealing with a monopoly was difficult?

Posted by:

Frank Thorne
11 May 2015

I have the pro version of win 8.1. Will I be getting the pro version of win 10?

Posted by:

Donna Wojtczak
03 Jun 2015

It's 2025. Say I'm 76 years old, have an old box of a desktop with today's minimum system requirements to run current software or "services"; or I have an old cell phone from Tracfone that barely makes it to the internet. My social security is stagnant, reduced or removed by Congress, so can't buy new toys. I'd rather be able to eat. How long will Win 10 play with my ancient hardware (for free), while my devices still fall within the sys rqmts set up in 2015?

Posted by:

15 Nov 2015

When I upgraded three of my pc's to Win 10 from win 7(which I later rolled back to 7 and messed up the task scheduler) I immediately extracted their product keys which I found to be the same. My question is: if your hard drive fails or you need to reload Windows after the free year upgrade is up, how are you going to reload Win 10? That key does not work with a clean Win 10 install. If all your software has been upgraded to win 10 compatible software will you then have to purchase win 10? or go back to your old operating system. This seems to qualify as a trial to me?

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Windows 10 - Will it Be Free? (Posted: 22 Jan 2015)
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