If you're a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 user and you're looking to upgrade to Windows 10, there's no shortage of opportunities to be confused about whether or not you'll be paying for the upgrade, or when you have to start paying for upgrades. We've parsed Microsoft's official content like the Upcoming changes to Windows 10 Insider Preview builds blog post and the Windows 10 Free upgrade offer site, and we have answers for you.
Read on to find out the particulars for upgrading.
FREE UPGRADES OR NOT
Q. Does the Windows 10 free upgrade offer only last 12 months from 29 July 2015 to 29 July 2016?
Q. If I am still running Windows 95, Millennium (Me), XP or Vista on my computer can I get a free upgrade to Windows 10?
Q. I have a system running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 – am I eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade?
Q. I have a system running Windows 8 with the Windows 8.1 Update installed – can I get a free upgrade to Windows 10?
Q. Can I transfer my Windows 10 installation to another computer after getting the free upgrade?
ALL ABOUT WINDOWS INSIDER PERKS
Q. I am a Windows 10 Insider. Can I upgrade to Windows 10 RTM for free on 29 July from the preview builds, then stop participating in the Windows Insider Program?
Q. Will that copy of Windows 10 RTM that upgraded my preview build be a genuine copy of Windows 10?
Q. If I want to continue as a Windows Insider, can I install a current build of Windows 10 preview, then use my Microsoft Account with it to get upgraded to Windows 10 RTM on 29 July?
Q. Will I continue to get new builds of Windows 10 after 29 July if I choose to remain in the Insider program?
Q. Will those builds ever expire?
Q. If I want to upgrade a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC on 29 July that hasn't been part of the Insider program, do I have to sign up before 29 July, or can I sign up after that date?
A. YES. They are keeping the Insider Program running after RTM is delivered on 29 July so that should mean sign ups can happen after that date.
Q. If I signed up as a Windows Insider prior to 29 July, 2015, and continue downloading every build before RTM, so I can upgrade to Windows 10 RTM, can I then perform a clean install of Windows 10 after the upgrade?
A. YES. Windows Insiders will be able to perform clean install of any testing build of Windows 10 after RTM is released - just like in the current Insider process.
The RTM version that Insiders will receive will be just like that provided to everyone else expect it will have a time bomb in it that will expire the build unless you install a new Insider build.
Q. My to-do list for 29 July: Upgrade to the RTM and activate. Then I want to download the ISO, install a new SSD and clean install Win 10 RTM on that, then opt out of the Insiders Program. After I opt out of the Insiders Program, is my activation and license is good forever on that PC? Will I still receive Win10 updates?
A. YES. The Windows 10 Upgrade is for the life of that device.
As for Windows 10 updates - yes you will still get them but they will come out to non-Insiders after they have been tested by MS and Insiders.
Q. If I have a computer that I just built and I do not own any version of Windows for it, can I join the Windows Insider Program and install Windows 10 RTM on it before or after 29 July 2015?
Q. Me again with the computer I just built. So -- will that version of Windows then be considered genuine?
Q. If I opt out of the Windows Insider program before 29 July 2016 can I still use the free Windows upgrade if my device had a genuine copy of Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (with Windows 8.1 Update) before I used it for the Insider program?
Q. If I opt out of the Windows Insider program after 30 July 2016 do I need to buy a new Windows 10 license if my device had a genuine copy of Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (with Windows 8.1 Update) before I used it for the Insider program?
THE INS AND OUTS OF LICENSES
Q. I have a retail license for my Windows 7 machine. As you know, I can transfer that license from one machine to another. So can I upgrade to Windows 10 for free, then transfer my Windows 7 retail license to a second machine and upgrade that one to Windows 10 too?
Q. Okay, how about if I have a retail license for Windows 8.1?
A. Still no.
Q. What if I bought a retail license that was purchased online or in a store - does the system upgraded to the free Windows 10 upgrade remain licensed as a retail license?
Q. If I purchased my copy of Windows 7 or 8/8.1 as a retail license from either a brick-and-mortar store or an online store, then I upgrade to Windows 10, can I transfer that upgrade to a new computer under the retail licensing?
Q. If I purchase a copy of windows 7 after 29 July will I still be eligible for a free upgrade to windows 10?
A. YES. All properly licensed Windows 7 and 8.1 machines are eligible for the free upgrade until 29 July 2016.
Q. I have a laptop and own the copy of Windows 7 Ultimate that is installed on it. I need to upgrade that laptop to Windows 10. However, after the upgrade, I would like to install the Windows 7 Ultimate OS into VirtualBox along with our old Windows XP copy for demonstration purposes. Can I do that?
A. NO. Since you are using the Windows 7 Ultimate license as the base for upgrading to Windows 10 on that device the Windows 7 license is locked to that machine and is not able to be moved. What you can do is upgrade that Windows 7 Ultimate machine to Windows 10 Pro, the version it is allowed to upgrade to.
Q. I have Windows 8.1 with embedded key . If I upgrade to Windows 10 will that key be changed and no longer work for Windows 8.1 ?
A. NO. If your system has an embedded key, then it is most likely an OEM system with an OEM license of Windows 8.1. You will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free and the system will be a valid install of Windows 10 and activated. Note that this is just for that machine.
Q. Still me with the OEM and Windows 8.1 with the embedded key. What if I upgrade now, and let’s say 16 months from now I want to go back to Windows 8.1 --can I do that? And then back to windows 10 a few months after that? Can I go back and forth whenever I want long as its on the same PC ?
A. YES, YES and YES, although I can’t imagine any usage scenario where you’d actually want to keep flipping back and forth between two operating systems like that.
To the first YES: the ability to simply revert your upgrade from 8.1 to Windows 10 is for just 30 days. After that you can revert back but it will require a reinstall of 8.1.
To the second YES: If you do the Windows 10 upgrade in the first 12 months it will be free for the lifetime of that device so you will be able to install Windows 10 after that on that system.
ALL ABOUT OEMS
Q. Is it true that the free upgrade to Windows 10 retains the properties of the license that was on the upgraded Windows 7 or 8.1 system? In other words if I am on an OEM system, when I upgrade it with a free Windows 10 upgrade, is it still licensed as an OEM system?
Q. I have a genuine copy of Windows 7 Professional on my laptop. I have never installed any Windows 10 build. Can I perform a clean install of Windows 10 instead of an upgrade? Does this change depending on whether I have an OEM or Retail copy? Are there any drawbacks to not performing a clean install if this is not possible?
A. YES. Microsoft has stated that a clean install will be possible on a retail or OEM copy as long as it is a genuine system.
Q. If I built my own computer and purchased an OEM license for that hardware from either a bricks-and-mortar store or an online vendor, does my OEM license transfer to the Windows 10 upgrade after 29 July 2015?
Q. Can I transfer that OEM based Windows 10 upgrade to another computer?
Q. In my SMB, we have almost exclusively OEM Windows 7 Pro licenses that came with the computers. These computers are joined to a domain. Do my machines get a free upgrade? How?
A. YES. As an OEM licenses, they are eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade. You’ll have to download the ISO for installing and upgrading the operating systems, as domain joined machines will not see the "Get Windows 10" app.
Q. If I upgrade to my OEM machine to Windows 10 from Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (with Windows 8.1 Update), what if I want to upgrade a component in my PC a few months from now? Do the Windows 7/Windows 8.1 OEM upgrade rules apply in Windows ?
A. YES. The same algorithm will be used to determine if enough hardware has changed to trigger having to re-authorize that system. Some hardware changes will not cause a system to be de-authorized and others will.
FLIPPING BETWEEN OPERATING SYSTEMS
Q. If I upgrade to the final version of Windows 10 anytime during the first year from a system with a genuine version of Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (with Windows 8.1 Update) installed can I reinstall Windows 10?
Q. Can I do a clean install of Windows 10 from a system with a genuine version of Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (with Windows 8.1 Update) installed?
Q. If I upgrade to the final version of Windows 10 anytime during the first year from a system with a non-genuine version of Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (with Windows 8.1 Update) installed can I upgrade to Windows 10?
Q. Do I need to use a Microsoft Account to upgrade my Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (with windows 8.1 Update) system to Windows 10?
Q. I understand both my Win7 SP1 PRO computers will get upgraded to Windows 10 (I have reserved the upgrade). Will I need a Microsoft account to "store" the Windows 10 keys after the upgrade (for future rebuilds) or can I continue avoiding using a MS account?
A. WE DON’T KNOW. Microsoft has not confirmed how they will track your activation and install yet. When they do confirm how they track your activation and install, we’ll let you know.
Q. Can Microsoft ever make its messaging completely clear?
Have any ideas of your own to add to this list? Comment below with it and we might add it to the article with appropriate credit.