Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Is Windows 10 Really Free?

Even though I thought I had already overdone writing about Windows 10, questions keep rolling in! Six months after introduction, Windows 10 has been installed on over 213 million computers; this is an adoption rate even greater than Windows 7, the previous record holder.

Upgrading to Windows 10 is currently free to those who have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 already installed on a personal computer. The offer does not extend to those who have Windows XP or Vista, nor can businesses participate in this promotion. The promotion officially ends on July 29, 2016, but there are rumors that the offer will be extended.


Microsoft has found other ways to “monetize” the free upgrade by mimicking the behavior of competitors. The sign in screen, the start menu and many of the included universal apps feature advertising. Many of the free universal apps require in app purchases for additional functionality. You are firmly steered to use Bing for searching and to permit Cortana to monitor and report your every action in order to “enhance your computing experience” – and coincidently facilitate advertising targeted to your personal needs. Note that you can opt out of most but not all of this enhanced surveillance; look in the 15 categories listed under Settings  Privacy.

My original recommendation for casual Windows users remains unchanged: those who have Windows 7 will gain minimal benefits from converting, while those with Windows 8.1 will find much to appreciate. Contrary to suspicions, there are no announced plans to impose a fee for future updates to Windows 10.

If you have been postponing the Windows 10 upgrade until the software is finalized, you will need to wait a bit longer. The anticipated “Redstone 1” update is still officially expected this summer (rumors now focus on June) and the “Redstone 2” update has been delayed from this fall until spring 2017.

If you were recently surprised to find that you were automatically updated to Windows 10, you probably missed the late December advisory warning that the upgrade was to be “elevated” from optional to recommended status. If you did not change the default update option to automatically install recommended updates along with important updates, you did tacitly consent to accept the upgrade.

You can choose to revert back to your prior Windows installation in the 30 days following the upgrade; look in Settings Update & Security  Recovery. If you missed this opportunity, check to see if you can restore your PC to factory settings. This will reinstall the version of Windows that came with your PC and remove all personal files, programs and drivers you installed, and any changes you made to settings. It’ll be just like the day you brought it home. Don’t forget to change those automatic update settings this time around unless you want to do this exercise again on a daily basis!