Windows 10 launch: Is it worth the free upgrade to Microsoft's latest OS?

If the only reason you are thinking to upgrade to Windows 10 is it's free, then you might want to read these additional factors you need to consider.

(Read Part 1 of our series on Windows 10: What's unique about Microsoft's strategy with the free upgrade)

As you probably know by now, upgrading to Windows 10 is free, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking, is it worth the cost? Cost can mean different things to different people. In our first piece in a series on Windows 10, we discussed what's different with Microsoft's approach to Windows 10. Here, we look at all aspects around the decision to upgrade from your existing version of Windows, to Windows 10.

Let’s say Microsoft isn’t giving away Windows 10 out of the goodness of their heart; corporations don’t have hearts; they need to pump money not blood. This is a calculated decision to lose some money in one place to possibly gain it in another. They have a vision of one billion Windows 10 devices in three years, which is great, but that helps them, not you.

If the only reason you are thinking to upgrade is because it's free, then you were never a Windows 10 customer in the first place.

Windows 10 one billion

The cost to you can be a lot greater. If you are very comfortable with how your computer works, Windows 10 might just disrupt that. Do you know another OS you can use that won’t cost you more money or time? The OS you are currently using.

It depends on your version

That said, the prospect of upgrading to Windows 10 is different, and depends on what you are upgrading from. For Windows 8/8.1 users, the experience of Windows 10 is simply better. After using Windows 10, Windows 8 (and 8.1) will feel like a freak OS Microsoft stopped at in the middle on their way from Windows 7 to 10 so they had something to sell. You deserve Windows 10 as the OS you should have gotten in the first place, damn right it’s for free!

For Windows 7 users, upgrading to Windows 10 is entering into a new era of Windows, one designed with touch devices in mind. Depending on how you use your computer, the experience of interacting with your PC's hardware could vary from being a bit worse, or just stay the same. So it’s all about the new features.

Remember that this offer stays for a year. The decision doesn’t need to be made immediately. In fact, for Windows 7 users, we’d strongly advise you to wait. See where and how things are ten months from now. By then there should be enough information out there not only about the experience of upgrading from Windows 7/8.x to 10 but also Windows 10 to newer versions of Windows 10 itself, which will come every few months.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco. Reuters

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco. Reuters

Think of Windows 10 – not as a new OS – but simply as an optional update available for your current OS. An update that will change the way your OS looks and works. It could even cause some software to stop working. You will also gain some new features, and applications in the process.

No more optional updates

Notice how we mentioned optional update just now? If you like the bit where they’re optional. Stay away from Windows 10, possibly for good! Once you install Windows 10, you will get updates that change the way Windows looks, behaves, and the apps it includes regularly, and these updates will not be optional! Home users have updates forced on them while Pro users can delay them a bit, but eventually you go where Microsoft takes you. Welcome to Windows-as-a-Service.

This whole idea of a free upgrade to Windows 10 is Microsoft giving you the last opportunity to make a choice with updates. A choice they will no longer offer once you are on the Windows 10 train, you don’t know where it might go, and you can’t stop for long anywhere on the way. The choice you have is, whether or not you hop onboard.

Some additional facts about upgrading to Windows 10

You need to be running a fully updated Windows version to upgrade to 10 directly. For Windows 8, users this means updating to 8.1 first.

If you're running a 32-bit version of Windows, you can only upgrade to a 32-bit version of Windows 10.

If you have multiple computers to upgrade, you can save bandwidth by downloading the ISO and using that to upgrade.

Using the ISO, you can also upgrade from plain Windows 8 or an earlier version of Windows 7 (which hasn't been updated), and even switch from 32bit to 64bit.

If you upgrade to Windows 10 but want to go back, then you have one month to do so.

(Read Part 3 of our series on Windows 10: Here's how Windows 10 has better window management compared to earlier versions)

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