Whenever Microsoft does something like launch a new operating system, most people fall into one of two categories: early adopters and those who wait until the eleventh hour.
If you’re an early adopter, this post isn’t about you. You’ve had your free upgrade for months now, and you’ve been humming along with your copy of Windows 10 without so much as a look back.
If, however, you’re one of those people who see a date in the far-off distance and make the decision to not think about that date until it’s closer… this is for you.
The Time is Now
The deadline to upgrade to Windows 10 for free is quickly approaching – July 29, 2016. That means that as of today, you have just 30 days to pull the trigger on a free upgrade, before the offer ends and you’ll have to pay for the new operating system – $119 for Windows 10 Home edition, or $199 for the Pro edition.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather get something for free than pay for it.
What’s the big deal?
If you’re still operating on Windows 7, you’ve got some time before Microsoft stops supporting it completely. Mainstream support ended on January 14, 2016, meaning that Windows 7 won’t receive any new features or product tweaks; extended support will last until January 14, 2020, meaning that security fixes will still occur during this time.
That date gives you a little more breathing room before you absolutely have to do something, but not upgrading while it’s still free is just putting off the inevitable.
Like the demise of Windows XP, choosing not to upgrade won’t affect the operation of your Windows 7 machine, but once you’re past the End of Life date (January 14, 2020) you’re in the weeds, security-wise. Any exploits that hit your machine after that date may serve to expose your personal information, and possibly hold that information for ransom, for which you’ll have to pay to recover. And not only will you have to pay to recover your information, you’ll still have to pay for a new operating system because, obviously, you won’t want to run an insecure operating system. Double whammy.
You’ve got 30 days from today to upgrade to Windows 10.
What if I don’t want the Windows 10 upgrade?
It’s human nature to resist change.
If you’re running Windows 7 and you’re accustomed to it, you probably don’t want to make the change to an operating system that’s radically different from what you’re used to. Maybe you tested out Windows 8 and it sent you running back to the comfort of Windows 7. There are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t blame you for clinging to your familiar old operating system after that.
Still, eventually you’re going to have to toe the line and upgrade to Windows 10. Fortunately, there is a way for you to get the free upgrade and not activate it right away. This involves something called a “digital entitlement” which associates your machine with the Windows 10 license and allows you to trigger the upgrade when you’re ready. More on how this works can be found here.
The Clock is Ticking
Some of you reading this might be saying, “but I can’t get Windows 10 for free!” and that may be correct. Users whose machines are part of a managed school or business network or are running Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, or Windows RT/RT8.1 aren’t part of this free upgrade offer. That’s a project for your IT administrator. Likewise, if you’re running a bootleg copy of a Windows product, you’ll have to queue up and purchase Windows 10.
For everyone else, though – what are you waiting for? The clock is officially ticking down 30 days until this offer expires.