How to Get the Free Windows 10 Upgrade

It’s been half a year since Microsoft began letting users install its latest operating system at no charge. According to Microsoft, the Free Windows 10 Upgrade Offer has been a stunning success, the new software is up and running on over 200 million different notebooks, tablets, desktops and even a few gaming consoles.

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With Windows 8, Windows 7 and previous Windows upgrades, your notebook or desktop either came running with the latest operating system or it didn’t. Microsoft made free upgrades available to anyone ready to purchase a new machine, but then the maker of that machine mailed you a DVD with the upgrade on it. It was up to you or the place you purchased the PC from to install it on your machine correctly.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Tablet running Windows 10.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Tablet running Windows 10.

The Free Windows 10 Upgrade Offer is completely in Microsoft’s control. That means the company can do some interesting things with it. Operating system upgrades were never big money makers for the company. Rather than selling you a new copy of Windows that you may not necessarily need, Microsoft is giving it to anyone running Windows 7 and Windows 8. There’s no waiting for a DVD to arrive. You don’t have to spend a couple hours of your life agonizing over which version to download.

Read: 36 Epic Windows 10 Features

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Here’s what you need to know about taking advantage of the Free Windows 10 Upgrade Offer and downloading Windows 10 to your notebook, desktop or tablet.

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How to Get the Free Windows 10 Upgrade: Have Windows 7 or Windows 8

Chances are that you’ve likely already received a free Windows 10 upgrade notification from your computer if you’re eligible to receive one and have kept your PC up-to-date. If you did and thought it was some kind of scam, it wasn’t. Microsoft is actually offering you a free Windows 10 upgrade because it wants as many users as possible running a modern version of Windows.

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Only PCs running Professional, Ultimate and Home editions of Windows 7 and Windows 8 are eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade. You can reserve that update now by opening that Windows 10 update window and hitting the reserve button. What this does is save your place in line. Microsoft is delivering Windows 10 upgrade in waves. With early adopters having already beat the crowds and gotten their upgrade already, Microsoft is now prompting less tech savvy users and business owners to make the switch.

If you don’t see the Windows 10 notification in your Taskbar, that’s fine. You can manually start the update process from within Windows Update on your device or by following the prompts and instructions here. Notebooks and tablets with limited storage space might require a flash drive or hard drive to install the updates with.

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The company says that it’s only offering the free Windows 10 upgrade for a single year from release. As that was last summer, expect the company to have more to say on upgrade pricing sometime this summer. If your PC can make it to Windows 10, it’ll be upgraded for free going forward, Microsoft says.

Read: How to Get the Free Windows 10 Upgrade Installed

Chances are that if you have Windows Vista you have a PC that could run Windows 10 just fine. Unfortunately, Microsoft isn’t offering the free Windows 10 upgrade to users with that operating system. Windows 10 will support upgrades from Windows Vista, users will just have to purchase a boxed copy. Amazon has flash drives with Windows 10 Home for $118. A flash drive with Windows 10 Pro is $199.

How to Get the Free Windows 10 Upgrade: Join The Windows Insider Program

Windows 10 Insider (4)

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For a huge swath of people, the process of getting a free Windows 10 upgrade is straight forward. Reserve a copy of the operating system, install it within the first year and you don’t have to worry about anything else.

For those who have no problem testing new features and changes Microsoft has the Windows Insider Program. Technically, anyone with a capable machine can join the Windows Insider Program and get a free Windows 10 upgrade. Don’t cheer yet though – there are caveats.

First, to successfully pull off a free Windows 10 upgrade this way you’d need to join the Windows Insider Program and stay enrolled permanently. To be frank, that’s a horrible, horrible idea for average users.

Windows Insider Program members get access to the software months before regular users. Sometimes the quality of Windows Insider Program releases is impeccable. Other times those releases can be riddled with bugs and half-baked features. To give you an idea of the kinds of compromises we’re talking about, early on Windows 10 had a bug that would cause your notebook, desktop or tablet to forget your Microsoft Account and stop many of your apps from working. Those bugs are to be expected, since Microsoft is doing real work with these releases. That doesn’t make them any fun to suffer through.

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As a member of the Windows 10 Insider Program myself, absolutely don’t try this. If you’re willing to provide feedback on a notebook, tablet or desktop that isn’t constantly in use that’s fine. Do not join the Windows 10 Insider Program to get a free Windows 10 upgrade on anything essential to your work flow or life. Also, know that when you leave the program you’ll need a valid copy of Windows 8, Windows 7 again so that you can download Windows 10 without issue.

Read: Windows 10 vs Windows 7 – What You Need to Know

Windows 10 includes tons of new features, fixes and changes to help you stay productive, entertained and fix that mess that was Windows 8. A new feature called Continuum acts as a bridge between the touch and mouse experiences of Windows 8. Users on a notebook or tablet no longer get a full screen Start Screen with oversized app tiles and full screen Windows Store apps. Instead, the Start Menu is back and Windows Store apps run alongside desktop apps like iTunes and Internet Explorer. Tablets and touch PCs without a keyboard still get the Start Screen and full screen apps.

The Action Center lets you keep track of notifications from all your apps. Access to free versions of Microsoft’s Office apps are also available after the upgrade in the Windows Store. Those are just the highlights. There are tons more upgrades included too. Good luck with your Windows 10 upgrade.

Windows 8 vs Windows 10: 10 Changes You Need to Know

Windows 8 vs Windows 10: Pricing & Updates

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Windows 8 vs Windows 10: Pricing & Updates

If you’re running Windows 8 Home and Windows 8 Professional you’ll get offered the Windows 10 update free of charge. It’s up to you if you want to install the upgrade. If you decide to do the upgrade you’ll have the opportunity to go back to Windows 8 for a solid month. You’ll keep getting operating system updates on a regular basis too.

Windows 8 gave you the opportunity to pick what upgrades you wanted manually. Windows 10 doesn’t, it’ll upgrade itself and you can’t be selective about what updates are installed. Microsoft is trying to keep Windows PCs secure. It’s a welcome change from manual updates.

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