Is Windows 10 Free?

Is Windows 10 Free?

There has been some confusion about the licensing of Windows 10 and if indeed it is a free operating system. Some people will qualify for a free update, others will need to purchase the operating system as normal.

If you are already running Windows 7 (SP1) or Windows 8.1, then you will no doubt have been prompted to update to Windows 10. If you proceed to update before 29 July 2016 then it is indeed free! This date may be extended closer to the time, but as things stand this is the deadline.

If you have not yet updated to SP1 on Windows 7 or the 8.1 update for Windows 8, you won't be offered the free Windows 10 update (but you still qualify). In this instance, you can use Windows Update to make sure you'll up to date with service packs. Most users will find that they are already fully patched.

Until recently, you had to upgrade your existing installation to qualify for a Windows 10 license. Thankfully, Microsoft have allowed users to perform a clean install using a Windows 10 boot USB/DVD and use their old Windows 7/8 license key. The same deadline will apply before this method stops working.

If you are running any other operating system (including Windows XP and Vista), you'll need to purchase a new license for your PC. Windows 10 is only free for a limited time and for users with an existing Windows 7/8/8.1 license key.

Once you have upgraded, your license is permanently valid for Windows 10 - so if you do a clean install at some point in the future, you can activate the operating system without going through any intermediary process.

The good news is that Windows 10 will be free for most people, because the majority of compatible hardware is likely already running an OS that qualified for a free upgrade. If you have a Windows XP or Vista PC, your hardware may not be compatible anyway (although this isn't always the case).

Keep in mind the 29th July Deadline and make sure that you update before then if you qualify and wish to use Windows 10.

First release
Last update

More resources from Ian