Windows 10 Free Upgrade Offer Concludes July 29th
Microsoft said it would be time-limited, and it's now confirmed: the free upgrade offer to Windows 10 from 7, 8 and 8.1 ends on July 29th. This was outlined in a post on the Windows Official Blog last week to improve awareness that the offer wasn't perpetual, and also outline some of the advantages of the newest Windows OS.
There are now over 300 million devices worldwide operating on Windows 10 including PC's, tablets and (technically) the XBox One. As of April 2016 it comprises 17% of the total PC OS share and has overtaken the combined Windows 8/8.1 share; Windows 7 still rules the roost at 44.5% of the operating system market. A recent illustrative article by TechRepublic shows the relative uptake rates of the various Windows OS's over the years, with Windows 10 clearly dominating the numbers.
The benefits to Microsoft of consumers upgrading to Windows 10 are numerous. Unlike Windows 7, 10 features it own integrated store front for software, a store for which Microsoft likely takes a hefty slice of the action (in common with most digital distribution platforms). It also includes an integrated advertising platform, serving users 'tailored adverts' based on used apps and content viewed over the web. These two aspects alone have the potential to make it a substantial revenue generator for the Redmond, Washington tech giants.
Consumer advantages in switching are, by contrast, rather scant. The updated UI is similar to Windows 7 yet not identical, and counter-intuitively doesn't feature even some of the basic customisation options available under 7. Changes in the UI also create something of a learning curve which is not ideal for many casual users, for whom even basic changes to the Start Menu and Programs List are a chore to be overcome.
For gamers DirectX 12 is the major draw as it offers better performance on a range of hardware, but so far very few games have come on stream that support the new API. Not only that, there's no guarantee that your favourite current game will be supported when you make the transition. Most modern games don't appear to have major issues - no-where near as many as the number sun-setted moving from XP to Vista for instance - but there are still isolated cases. Those games that are exclusive to Windows 10 have been critically panned, which isn't a good draw for the platform.
Oh, and the less said about Universal Windows Platform Apps, the better.
Issues surrounding hardware will tend to be the most worrying to many hobbyists and enthusiasts. You're somewhat in the lap of the gods as to whether specific hardware has compatible Windows 10 drivers, even if is has worked fine for years on 7. Not only that, the 'free upgrade' license is tied to your current hardware configuration; change the hardware significantly - as enthusiasts often do, for example by changing motherboard and CPU - and you could wind up needing to buy a new non-OEM version. That's even the case if you're upgrading from non-OEM 'Full' Windows 7/8.1 by the way.
Whilst the process of upgrading can be a painless routine accomplished by a just a few clicks and 90 minutes away from the screen, it's not risk-free. The now looming deadline adds tension to the decision but it still should not be taken lightly, even if technical support including non-critical updates for Window 7 is also due to be curtailed in the very near future.
Microsoft's blog post on the subject, including their '10 Reasons To Upgrade To Windows 10', can be found here. A full retail copy of Windows 10 Home is currently £85, available as either a download or on Flash USB stick.