/ Technology

Free at last – Microsoft gives away Windows 10

windows 10

If you’re one of those who was left frustrated with Windows 8, today’s your lucky day. An announcement from Microsoft introduces the new Windows 10. And better yet, it’s free.

‘We want to move people from needing Windows to loving Windows.’ So said Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive officer, at an event yesterday where Windows 10 was formally introduced to the world. Well, there’s one thing people will definitely love – the price.

Windows 10 is to be offered as a free upgrade to any customers currently running Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1, provided they install the upgrade in the first year after launch.

The move to offering its signature operating system free of charge feels long overdue, and some, myself included, would consider it a necessary apology gesture to those of us who endured the lamentable Windows 8 in the first place.

Free, that’s the magic number

No more, no less, that’s what consumers have been calling for. When we ran a poll here on Which? Conversation to ask your opinion on Windows 10, of 2,000 respondents, an overwhelming 92% felt Windows 10 should be free for Windows 8 users. A further 6% felt it should be offered at a discount.

Microsoft has gone one better by broadening the free offer to the huge Windows 7 user base. And that makes it a more tantalising proposition for millions of business owners the world over, and perhaps even Chris S who told us this on the last Convo:

‘Bought a new laptop with Win 8 when our old one died. It was so bad we put it in a cupboard and bought a Mac! Might dig out the laptop to try Win 10 if they give a free upgrade.’

A free upgrade is nothing all that novel in the modern tech landscape – Apple offers Mac users free upgrades to the latest version of OS X all the time, while iPad or iPhone users are offered a new version of iOS for free every year. Terfar pointed this out, and from the sound of things, it seems his fears aren’t that necessary:

‘Apple and Android get free updates. I think that Microsoft may have to join the bandwagon with free updates, but I fear that we may then only get a basic OS without all the standard features.’

Microsoft is finding its traditional revenue model increasingly turned on its head. It simply isn’t making much money out of selling operating systems these days. A free OS is a gateway to upselling further products, apps and services that may give Microsoft a profitable lifeline.

Free forever?

So Windows 10 is to be free – well that’s alright, now, but will it stay that way? I have some reservations over the fact it’s been stated as only being free for the first year after launch. It’s possible anyone dragging their feet to upgrade could end up still paying out for the operating system later down the line.

And who’d blame you for holding back on upgrading? When Windows 8 first debuted, it was met with dismay as Microsoft abandoned such staples as the Start menu, and shoe-horned in a tablet-style app experience into an operating system that was still predominantly used by laptop and desktop owners. Windows 8.1 fixed a number of gripes, but we had to wait the better part of a year for these to come along.

Microsoft hasn’t committed to a pricing plan for Windows 10 further down the line. It’s entirely plausible that it could yet remain free, though this is unconfirmed. For now, I’ll happily take the news of the free upgrade as a great, common-sense response from Microsoft to evident dissatisfaction from its core customers and a necessary shift in a changing market place.

So will you update to Windows 10 as soon as it’s out? Or has your loyalty already shifted to another brand? And do you think it’s right that operating systems are now being given away for free?

Rob £ says:
6 August 2015

I have installed Windows 10 on one PC but there are problems with parental controls. To make Family Safety work, your children must have email accounts, in spite of what their help screen says. My children 6 and 9 don’t have email accounts , nor do I want them to have them. Someone should rap Microsoft over the knuckles. As it stands, I wouldn’t recommend Windows 10 for families.

I have an old windows laptop and also an Apple Mac. Most of my important work is on the Apple Mac so I was not overly concerned when downloading Windows 10. The only thing I wanted to work was Microsoft Money. As far as I can tell the only thing that doesn’t work is Microsoft Money which apparently needs IE 6 to work which seems strange as I wasn’t on IE 6 before.

I had downloaded a program to make sure everything was compatible.

Rob E says:
14 August 2015

I had the same problem, but found the following fix, which involves changing the registry. See https://techjourney.net/microsoft-money-requires-internet-explorer-6-to-function-properly-error-in-windows-10/

I had tried that fix and it did seem to work. However I was concerned about the effects it may have on security with changing back to IE6. Also surely every time MS upgrades it will change IE to the latest version. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about these issues so I changed back.

Just had the latest update & thought I would check Microsoft Money. I couldn’t believe it sprang into action.

Well done Microsoft.

Upgraded Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 and it worked well for two days.
However for the last 4 days “critical error message”with start menu not launching with a further message “we’ll try to fix it next time you sign in”
Rebooting did not work and looking at the Microsoft forums I’m not the only one with this problem.
Any one buying a new pc with the promised windows 10 upgrade needs to be aware of this.

Hi Joey – I agree anyone buying a new PC with a view to running W10 right now should actually buy one that comes with W10 already installed.

Otherwise, the upgrade seems to be a hit or miss process at the moment.

helen says:
24 August 2015

where have all the Microsoft games gone from win 10? not a solitaire or hear in sight – the file is empty?