Kshitij SobtiJul 20, 2015 20:05:36 IST
Look up information about Windows 10, and amongst all the hype and speculation three key points will stand out: Windows 10 releases on 29 July; upgrading to it will be free for one year; and this will be the last version of Windows. All of them just happen to raise more questions, so let’s clarify those as best we can.
Windows 10 is an odd release. There is some fuzziness to this date because Windows 10 is essentially Windows-as-a-Service. For some, this service began a lot sooner since the preview version of Windows 10 was released in October 2014. All those who installed the preview version are already running what will release to consumers and will be available on new computers on the official release date – 29 July.
Updates are now continuous
There is a transition away from piling up features and then making a huge major release with a nice bump in version number. Firefox and Google Chrome are prime examples where releases are timely and mostly unexciting. Microsoft is trying to move to a similar model starting with Windows 10.
Rather than piling up features for an eventual Windows 11 release, Microsoft plans to put them in Windows 10 itself as they are ready. So while there might not be a Windows 11 in another three years, Windows 10 will eventually become what Window 11 would theoretically have been. The meaning of ‘release’ has been changed now, as Windows 10 now, and Windows 10 two years from now will be quite different despite being called the same thing.
One time subscription
This is Microsoft’s idea of Windows-as-a-Service, not a Windows subscription (though that may come), but a model where you pay once to get Windows on your device, and then you needn't worry about buying Windows for that device ever again for the lifetime of your device. This is true for those who upgrade from a previous version, buy a new copy, or get it pre-installed on their device.
Of course ‘lifetime’ has a vague definition when it comes to technology. As Windows 10 keeps improving, eventually its hardware requirements could move beyond the point that it can run on your computer. Microsoft makes no guarantees that this will not happen. So a lifetime of updates simply means free updates till your device is functioning, and can handle running the constantly-improving operating system.
This is one of the advantages of taking Microsoft up on their offer to upgrade to Windows 10 now for free. By upgrading now you are getting not only Windows 10, but all future upgrades to Windows 10 for free. If you are running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 you are eligible to get this free. In fact, if your computer is connected to the Internet and updates regularly, you probably already know this. Microsoft hasn’t exactly been subtle in informing users of this offer through Windows update, and a permanent icon in their system tray.
While getting anything for free is exciting, and this offer sounds great, it isn't all sunshine and roses. There are many benefits of upgrading, but there are also a few disadvantages that will affect some more than others. Whether it is worth upgrading could depend on a number of factors ranging from your current version of Windows (7 / 8 / 8.1); the edition of Windows you are running (Home / Pro, etc. ); whether you use any Windows feature that is no longer present among several other things.
(Read Part 2 of our series on Windows 10: Is it worth the free upgrade to Windows 10?)