July 29th 2015 saw Microsoft release their latest operating system, Windows 10. This new release marked the first time Microsoft had released an operating system with the opportunity for users to upgrade to Windows 10 at no additional cost (so long as a previous license for Windows 7 or 8.1 has been purchased ). This free upgrade incentive was initially touted as being available for 12 months post release date, and therefore as of July 29th 2016 you should be expected to pay when upgrading to Windows 10, but will this actually be the case?
Microsoft’s main goal in providing Windows 10 free to users of Windows 7 and 8.1 is to try and eventually amass more than 1 billion users of their new operating system. This is largely part of the long-term goal being to reduce Windows 7 users as by 2020 the operating system will no longer have extended support. While it is true that many of the PC’s running Windows 7 may simply be retired when extended support is dropped, there are inevitably going to be relatively new PC’s running Windows 7, whether this is due to a loyal user base, or because businesses are wary of upgrading their current systems. Either way this has potential to cause Microsoft issues and they are likely wanting to avoid the same issues faced when Windows XP was retired. The question is what can Microsoft do to avoid facing these issues and ensure a smoother transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10?
There are three notable theories circulating the internet on how Microsoft can help smooth the transition over to the new operating system. The first solution suggests that Microsoft continues to proceed with the July 29th 2016 deadline, and following from this, proceeds to charge users to upgrade to Windows 10. This upgrade charge may even be initially discounted (historically Microsoft has offered reduced cost for both previous Windows 7 and 8.1 operating system upgrades). This option may seem counterproductive as those users who have held back from upgrading to Windows 10 for free during the initial 12 month offer are unlikely to then pay for an upgrade anytime soon. It is possible that in the long run users may feel comfortable upgrading at a later date when they are confident that Windows 10 has dealt with teething issues which most operating system are prone to suffer from in the early stages post release.
The second solution is that Microsoft continue with their free upgrade offer indefinitely. This in turn could set the precedent in which all future Microsoft operating system releases are available for free, however this would obviously pose financial questions for the company going forward and may not be seen as a viable option. It is entirely possible that those users who were reluctant to upgrade to Windows 10 during the free period may be less reluctant to do so for a perpetually free product which they may deem inferior or fear will lack support due to no cost being involved for the license upgrade.
The third possibility is that Microsoft updates or changes the free upgrade offer to include a revised version of the operating system which may include additional features. The online community is speculating that this is going to be the probable solution as Microsoft prepares to release the latest version (codenamed ‘Redstone’) which could be available as early as August 2016. This upgrade is essentially what Windows 8.1 was to Windows 8, bringing some much sought after technical changes to Windows 10. Microsoft could potentially release this upgrade a month earlier than the deadline to try and influence more people to upgrade, or alternatively they may release this upgrade after the deadline as a brand new offer.
If the upgrade offer is extended, then there are potentially three dates which it may be extended to. The first would be 31st October 2016 which is the current date Microsoft has designated as the last day PC’s are shipped with Windows 7 Professional operating system. The second potential date would be December 31st 2016 as there may be many users that wish to upgrade over the new year period, and this is also a period when upgrades may be less disruptive to business users. The third – and perhaps most likely extension date would be 27th July 2017. This date is when Microsoft plans to drop support for Windows 7 and 8.1, albeit it only on hardware that is based on Intel’s latest generation of CPU’s (Skylake).
If you are a user of a Microsoft Windows phone but aren’t running the Windows 10 version of their mobile operating system, there is soon to be an upgrade released for Windows Phone Windows 8.1 to upgrade to Windows 10, but this applies to limited devices initially. If you are currently running Windows Phone 10 there is an upgrade available for the operating system as of May 11th 2016. Windows Phone 10 makes it easier for all of your Microsoft devices to work with each other. Windows calls this OneCore, which offers compatibility across PC, Mobile, Xbox, HoloLens and more. The main function of OneCore is to work from one device to the other seamlessly without interruption. This feature will potentially be released this year and there is even the chance this will be integrated into the Redstone update for Windows 10
By Sam Tutt on May 16th, 2016