Windows 10: What’s left on the menu?
The proverbial “Free Lunch” has come to an end, now that Microsoft has shut down the free upgrade to Windows 10. If you are like many users who were a little hesitant about upgrading through this free era, there are still options available to upgrade; they may now just involve payment. There also is no complete 'End-of-Life' associated with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1; much like it was for Windows XP. These are both still fully supported operating systems from Microsoft, with security updates and support until 2020.
The differences between previous generations of the Windows platform and Windows 10 can be a little bit of a woozy! The best way to compare the OS versions is to have them laid out, side by side, so that you can really see the features that one has or does not have over each other. You can do that here.
However, if you have finished mulling over the decision, and have decided that you want to cross the blue line and make the leap to the coveted Windows 10 platform, here are the ways to go about it.
Pay the tab and make the switch
According to Microsoft, the available versions of Windows 10 are:
-Windows 10 Home
-Windows 10 Pro
On their website, they only list these two versions, so enterprise customers may need to check the differences in available components of Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 10, with Windows 10 Pro looking to be the most comparable option. The prices for these two versions are separated by about $79, it’s a not a huge jump from one to the other, so make sure you are comparing the two before purchasing, which you can do here.
There are three types of media differences for each version of Windows 10, and it all depends on how you would like the upgrade to occur, or if you need a solid physical backup to keep around after purchasing and installing.
You can either purchase the activation code through Microsoft.com and have the ability to immediately download and activate a copy of Windows 10, inside of your current installation-this can sometimes be the easier option for individuals worried about losing data or applications. It is always recommended to do a complete backup before installing a new OS or for individuals who have no need for a physical copy, or find it “barbaric” to use physical media over digital.
Another option involves purchasing a USB copy of your Windows 10 flavor through Microsoft.com or any valid Microsoft partners who have the physical media for sale. You can still perform the upgrade inside of your current Windows environment, or you can initiate a clean install and start from scratch. The USB is normally a lot easier to handle on current BIOS systems that have UEFI based utilities, so you won’t have to go through a confusing sequence of button pushes when the PC turns on to get it to boot from the USB. It is also handy to have around, as Microsoft has included repair utilities inside of the install file that can help with repairing or refreshing the operating system. There is no difference in cost between the digital download and the USB key through Microsoft, so the smart decision may be to purchase the Windows 10 USB Key to keep around for using as a repair tool, or if you are on a modern system that does not contain a DVD/CD Optical drive (like most systems being released) then you wouldn’t run into any issues running through an install or repairing the operating system.
Installation instructions for installing Windows 10 from the USB as a clean install outside or upgrade of current windows install can be found here.
Installation instructions for installing Windows 10 from the Media Creation tool can be found here.
The last option is normally supplied by Microsoft partners, but not exclusively shipped by Microsoft individually. On sites like Newegg.com, Amazon.com, TigerDirect.com (links include direct views of Windows 10 DVD’s), you can purchase a DVD copy of the Windows 10 installation media, with the registration key listed on the DVD sleeve. This performs the same function as the USB and download versions, but is sometimes much easier to boot into, and works well on legacy systems that are difficult to boot into with a USB key, but easy with an optical DVD drive. The caveat is it can be fairly difficult to obtain a copy of the Pro edition, with the Home edition being more prolific in this format.
Installation instructions for installing Windows 10 as a clean install from a DVD can be found here.
Be included in a group of a select few.
There is another option for upgrading to Windows 10 for free that involves an “extension” for specific individuals, and specific software configurations. Microsoft is offering a special Windows 10 upgrade offer for people who use assistive technologies. The issue is, although Microsoft is not checking to see if you are “qualified” for this upgrade currently, it does not mean that somewhere down the line they will perform an update that checks for these parameters, so we do not suggest going this route if you are not an individual who meets these requirements, or does not have these configurations setup. Instructions for following this route are outlined here: Windows 10 upgrade offer for people who use assistive technologies.
As you can see, although the free upgrade period has ended, the difficulty of finalizing your upgrade to Windows 10 should not entail too many difficult avenues, and follows the same guidelines that previous Windows versions contained. Happy Upgrade time everyone!