The Windows 10 FREE upgrade FAQ

Windows 10 Upgrade FAQ

Microsoft have begun the process of getting all of us ready to migrate from older versions of Windows to Windows 10.

This has occurred with all manner of system updates and prompts from the software maker.

The challenge is, there is a lot of misinformation out there about how all this is meant to work so I wanted to create a page where all the questions about this process would be answered.

So here are the most popular questions about the upcoming Windows 10 upgrade and some of the corresponding answers for each question.

I’ll continue to update as you ask more questions.

When does the free upgrade to Windows 10 begin?

If you’re a Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 user, technically the process has begun, you should have started to see the prompts in your taskbar inviting you to begin the reservation process.

How do I get the FREE upgrade?

Everyone running Windows 7 or Windows 8 should get an invitation to install a free copy of Windows 10.

For those running updated versions of Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 S14, this will be much the same as the offer to upgrade from Windows 8.0 to Windows 8.1.

In other words, Windows Update will download the code in the background, and you will merely have to accept the offer to install it.

As always, the only limitation is that you have to install it within a year of Windows 10’s release.

If you want to make sure you get the offer, install Windows update KB3035583. This update was recommended for Windows 8 users and was optional for Windows 7 users.

If you are running Windows 7, Windows 8.0 or Windows 8.1 RTM (ie the released version, without the spring update), then you will not be able to upgrade using Windows Update.

You can either update your operating system before you upgrade, or download the Windows 10 upgrade manually and create your own installation DVD using the Windows Disc Image Burner.

If you are running Windows XP or Vista, then you will be able to buy a Windows 10 upgrade: watch out for Microsoft’s usual pre-orders and special offers.

How do I cancel my reservation for the Windows 10 free offer?

To cancel your reservation, right-click on GWX, the white Windows icon on the Taskbar, select “Check your upgrade status” and then “Cancel reservation”.

Will my free Windows 10 upgrade expire after one year?

No, that’s completely wrong. Once you have installed Windows 10 and made a note of your product key, it’s FREE for the life of the machine it is installed on. Very important – the license is tied to the hardware you are upgrading.

What if my PC should die? What happens to my upgrade then?

If your hardware dies within the one year period, the next PC you buy should either come with Windows 10 or have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and you can do the FREE upgrade again.

If your hardware dies AFTER the one year period, the next PC you buy should either come with Windows 10 or if you (for some reason) get Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you will have to pay for a Windows 10 upgrade.

Can I upgrade my OEM copy?

I’m currently running an OEM [original equipment manufacturer] copy of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. Would this be eligible for an upgrade to Windows 10 too?

In theory, yes, but Microsoft has not said what it plans to do about OEM versions that were intended for small PC makers but have been purchased by consumers.

I would guess yes but you will probably be limited to Windows 10 Home or Pro regardless of whether you had an “ultimate” version or not.

When can I just go out to a store and buy Windows 10?

Not clear yet.

Based on what some retailers are leaking, late August might be a really good bet. It could be another couple of months but my guess is some time before the back to school market start spending money on new PC’s.

Some suppliers might target the back-to-school market, but most if not all should have it for the Christmas shopping season. Microsoft will not want to miss that.

I have some really hard to find and unusual software and/or hardware that I am running on Windows 7 or 8.1? Should I install Windows 10 immediately it comes out?

If you have any unusual hardware or software, you need to hold off installing Windows 10.

First of all check your vendor’s website to see of they already have a version of their software or hardware compatible with Windows 10.

You need to check for the right software drivers to make sure Windows 10 won’t crash your app or hardware.

How much memory do I need to move to Windows 10?

Microsoft reckons 32-bit Windows 10 will run in 1GB and the 64-bit version in 2GB. While this may be true, I’d recommend doubling each number, ie 2GB and 4GB.

However, if you are running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 in 3GB, 64-bit Windows 10 should run slightly better. You need the 64-bit version to support more than 4GB.

I have a desktop PC and a laptop. Can I upgrade both for free?

Yes. It doesn’t matter if you have two or 20 PCs, or more. The free offer applies to every PC that is running a “genuine” copy of Windows 7 or 8, with a few exceptions.

For example, the offer does not apply to corporate or education copies installed under some volume or site licensing deals. (Enterprises on Microsoft’s Software Assurance scheme get Windows 10 free anyway.)

Is it Windows 10 Home or Pro? I have Windows 8.1 Pro. Will the free download be Home or Pro?

If you have a Home version, you will get Windows 10 Home, and if it’s a Pro version, you will get Windows 10 Pro. Microsoft always does like-for-like upgrades, where possible.

However, there isn’t a Windows 10 Ultimate, so I believe people who bought Vista Ultimate (me!) or Windows 7 Ultimate (not me!) will be downgraded to Windows 10 Pro.

Will I be able to go from 32-bit Windows 8.1 to 64-bit Windows 10?

Not directly. If you let Windows Update upgrade your system “in place”, it will always do it on a like-for-like basis: 32-bit to 32-bit; 64-bit to 64-bit.

If you want to move from any 32-bit version of Windows to any 64-bit version, it always requires a “clean installation” from a DVD or USB drive or whatever.

This will delete your old operating system, programs and data, so you will have to re-install everything from scratch.

Can I downgrade later?If I upgrade to Windows 10 and do not like it, will I be able to go back to Windows 7 or 8?

Yes – Microsoft aims to enable you to “roll back” to your old operating system, if required.

However, I wouldn’t rely on this. In my view, it’s essential to back up your old system before installing a new one.

You should also use the option to create “recovery media” with your old system, so that you’re not totally dependent on the “roll back” working.

You and you alone are responsible for preserving your own data.

I most definitely DO NOT want to upgrade to Windows 10. How can I get rid of that nagging “reminder” on my Taskbar?

Nobody is forcing you to get Windows 10. If you don’t want it, don’t reserve it or install it.

To remove the reminder, right-click on Start and select Properties. Next, go to the Taskbar tab, click the button that says “Customize …”, and find GWX, the Get Windows 10 app. The drop-down menu offers the option to “Hide icon and notifications”.

If you want to go further, run Windows Update and click “View update history” to see all the updates you have installed. Look for, or search for, KB3035583, select it, and then click to uninstall or change it.

Windows will ask “Are you sure?” Just click “Yes”.

It won’t bother you again … unless you re-install KB3035583.

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