Question from Earnest H.: Hi Rick. I’ve heard that I’ll be able to upgrade my Dell computer from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 for free at the end of the month. I have also heard conflicting stories whether or not it will remain free forever.
Some of the things I’ve read say if you qualify for the free upgrade, Windows 10 will only be free for the first year. After that you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription fee to Microsoft in order to keep on using it. But then I’ve heard other people say that the free Windows 10 upgrades will stay free forever.
Can you clear this up for me once and for all? I’d love to replace Windows 8.1 with Windows 10, but not if I’ll end up having to pay for it after the first year is up.
Rick’s answer: Earnest, the story straight from Microsoft is anyone who upgrades to Windows 10 for free will never have to pay anything to keep using it. In other words, your Windows 10 license will remain valid for as long as Microsoft continues supporting the hardware device that’s running it (PC, tablet, phone, etc.).
You don’t have to take my word on that. This blog post from the Microsoft website explains that free versions of Windows 10 are just that: free. Here is the pertinent paragraph from that post, quoted verbatim:
As we announced earlier this year, for the first time ever, we are offering the full versions of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Mobile and Windows 10 Pro as a free and easy upgrade for qualifying Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year after launch. Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.
The phrase “devices that upgrade in the first year after launch” is the part that seems to be causing all the confusion. Some people are taking that to mean that after the first year Windows 10 will no longer be free. But that isn’t the case at all, as the bolded sentence at the end makes clear (Microsoft confirmed this in a response to an email I sent them asking to clarify this point).
The “first year” they mentioned is simply the window of time that you’ll have to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. If you fail to download and install Windows 10 on an eligible device within the first year after its release, the free upgrade offer will no longer exist. As I understand it, the free upgrade offer will expire on July 30, 2016 – one year after the July 29, 2015 release date.
Of course there will come a point in time when Microsoft will indeed stop supporting older hardware. After all, they simply cannot afford to keep supporting obsolete hardware forever.
That being said, if your Windows 10 device is relatively new (in tech years), you’ll likely be able to enjoy using Windows 10 for free for several years. And besides, if you’re like most people you’ll probably be wanting to upgrade to a newer, faster, and more powerful device before Windows stops supporting your old one anyway.
Bottom line: If you have a hardware device that’s eligible to receive a free upgrade to Windows 10 and you upgrade for free during the first year, you will NEVER have to pay Microsoft a fee in order to keep on using Windows 10 on that device. Period.
I hope this helps Earnest. Good luck!
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