Should You Take Advantage of The Free Windows 10 Upgrade?
Starting today, Microsoft is making Windows 10 available as a free upgrade for qualified Windows 7, and 8.1 versions. This is not a trial or introductory version; it is an actual full version of Windows, and the offer is good for a year.
The edition of Windows that you will upgrade to depends on the edition that you currently have on your device. For example, if you have Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, or Home Premium, you will upgrade to Windows 10 Home; however, if you have Windows 7 Professional, or Ultimate, you will upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.
The same goes for Windows 8. If you have Windows 8.1, you will upgrade to Windows 10 Home, whereas, if you have Windows 8.1 Pro, or Pro for Students, you will upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.
What happens if you decide to not upgrade during the free one-year offer? Eventually, Microsoft will stop supporting other versions of Windows and you will have to upgrade. After the free upgrade opportunity is closed, it will cost you $119.99 for Windows 10 Home, and $199.99 for Windows 10 Pro.
Probably the most obvious and predominant argument for this upgrade is that it’s free. Think about that for a second: a complete operating system upgrade with no money exchanging hands.
If you are more of a traditional Windows user, you’ll be happy to learn that Microsoft has learned it’s lesson from version 8, and brought the beloved Start Menu back in Windows 10. This new Start Menu is described as a mash-up between Windows 7 and 8, it has the usability and organization of Windows 7 with the live tiles of Windows 8.
Windows 10 includes some pretty impressive new features as well, one of which is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri. Cortana is an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator for Windows that was introduced to the Windows 8.1 Smartphone in 2014. She keeps track of things that interest you, makes helpful suggestions, reminds you of meetings and appointments, while helping you stay connected to the people who matter the most to you. She will even alert you to flight or traffic delays, or remind you to pick something up from the store on your way home.
By implementing new identity protection and access control, information protection, and threat resistance features, Microsoft has greatly improved their security for Windows 10. According to Jim Alkove, CISSP of Microsoft, in Windows 10: Security and Identity Protection for the Modern World, “With this release we will have nearly everything in place to move the world away from the use of single factor authentication options, like passwords.” Microsoft has created a two factor authentication system by making the device itself one of the two factors that is required for authentication, with the other factor being a PIN or biometric. This means that an attacker would need to have a user’s physical device along with their credentials in order to gain access, and not just a password. This is just one of the new security features being introduced in Windows 10, encryption to protect critical data as it leaves a device, and the ability to lock down devices are a few more.
There are a few negatives when it comes to upgrading. The one that seems to be making the most noise and sparking nervousness in many legacy Windows users is the fact that with Windows 10 you will no longer have the ability to ignore updates. Windows 10 Home users will not be able to prevent updates at all, while Windows 10 Pro & Enterprise will be able to put them off for some time. However, no matter which version you have for Windows 10 you will still have the ability to schedule when those updates occur, such as scheduling them when you are done working on a time-sensitive project, or when your Skype business meeting is over. Updates are still flexible around your schedule; they are just not optional anymore. This is mostly because many users keep pressing the “Remind Me Later” button over and over again, and never actually run the update, which puts them at risk for missing critical security patches.
Another negative that seems to be a big deal with some Windows users is the loss of Windows Media Center (WMC). It was only given as an add-on in Windows 8 and 8.1 because of users growing use of similar third-party software. Seeing as most users used WMC to play DVDs, Microsoft will be providing an alternate DVD playback option available for Windows 10.
Finally, when operating systems are first released they can often run into bugs, driver issues, and other minor (and sometimes not so minor) problems. It could be worth waiting a couple of months for a patch or two before you take the plunge.
How to Upgrade
After today, you will receive a notification once Windows 10 has been downloaded to you device and is ready for install. You can choose to install it immediately or you can pick a date and time that works best for your schedule.
This step is self-explanatory.
Is It Too Good To Be True?
Microsoft has confirmed that after Windows 10 they will be dropping the numbers and simply moving forward with Windows, making it seem as though they are no longer wanting to continue with multiple versions and instead move to one all-encompassing version that their staff will be able to concentrate on in full force instead of dividing and conquering. This may very well be Microsoft’s ultimate goal for providing the upgrade for free; get as many people switched over so that less time will be spent on security patches for old versions.
End of support for Windows 7 and 8.1 is coming in 2020 and 2023. You can hold on to them for 5 or 8 more years, but eventually you will have to upgrade in order to avoid security holes. Why not take advantage of the free offer? But remember you do have a full year to decide.