Windows 10: End of a Free Upgrade and Beginning of A New Era for Windows Insiders Image Courtesy of Microsoft

Windows 10: End of a Free Upgrade and Beginning of A New Era for Windows Insiders

Today, the free upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8.1 users ends --  in terms of Windows 10 system milestones, it's kind of like 12:35 a.m. on New Year's Day when all the fireworks and sparklers have gone up in smoke and the party hats and funny glasses go away never to be seen again. Only for Windows users, the disappearing party hat is an app: the infamous Get Windows 10 app will be removed from Windows 7 and 8.1 systems around the world and the steady stream of reminders will fade into history.

Inevitably, the next phase of this process will be the uproar from those users who never heard about the free upgrade as they find out about it after the offer is over. They will express their dismay about missing the upgrade opportunity and share their frustration at Microsoft for ending the unprecedented offer in the first place.

I know this will happen because that is exactly what occurred when Microsoft ended the special $15 and $40 upgrades to Windows 8 a few years ago. 

If history repeats itself, those users who were shocked, shocked! to find out they missed out on a free upgrade will likely stay put with their current operating system and postpone the move to Windows 10 until they buy their next desktop, laptop or tablet.

A few might even choose to invest in a retail license and pay $119 for a Windows Home upgrade or $199 for an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. However, I do wonder about those who knew about the free upgrade and did not take it. Who says no to free money and a modern, secure operating system at the same time?

Moving forward to next week, on August 2, 2016, the second major update to Windows 10 gets released - the Anniversary Update - so it is now time to look to the future of Windows 10.

The first thing is that you can fully expect Windows 10 to continue to be supported by Microsoft under the Windows as a Service approach which means a steady flow of monthly updates to address security, performance and bugs in this latest version of the operating system.

In fact, based on a couple of cumulative updates that have been released for Windows 10 Build 14393, we already know there will be an update available right alongside of the Anniversary Update when it is first delivered to users beginning on 02 August.

By the way, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will not be an instantaneous roll out. There are over 350 million devices running Windows 10 according to Microsoft, so that means the roll out will be staggered as that is a lot of devices that will be waiting for the upgrade. If you look back at the roll out of Windows 10 last July and its first update in November, both were staggered. Patience will certainly be a virtue for anxious users.

For the impatient and advanced users among you, there is an alternative to waiting. Microsoft has confirmed that the Media Creation Tool will be available on August 2, 2016, along with the Anniversary Update release build so users will be able to use that to get an ISO, perform an in-place upgrade or create installation media for a clean install for their systems just like last year.

Once everyone is settled into the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the next step that will be on the minds of Windows Insiders is the next stage of the program. That means testing development builds for Redstone 2 - the next major update for Windows 10 which is expected sometime in the Spring of 2017.

So when will that first Fast Ring build for Redstone 2 arrive?

Well, after the initial release of Windows 10 and its first major update last November, it took three and four weeks respectively for Microsoft to prepare and issue the first testing build of the next update. You have all seen the crazy Fast Ring release pace of testing builds for the Anniversary Update over the last few weeks and I believe that is a good indicator that we will see that first Redstone 2 build in the month of August.

For us here at Supersite: Windows we still have some great Windows 10 Anniversary Update coverage planned for you and we will go ahead and retire our handy PC and Mobile preview build trackers for Redstone 1 that helped us account for all 50 builds for the Anniversary Update over the last eight months.

We will however prepare some new PC and Mobile trackers for Redstone 2's preview releases in the next couple of weeks so that we can continue to provide you a one stop shop for every build coming out of Redmond for the third major update of Windows 10.

Be sure to check out all of our Windows 10 Anniversary Update Coverage.

But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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