Since its big show-and-tell in recent months, Windows 10 has been seen as a “free” operating system for PC users, like never before. After all, Microsoft used to charge an arm and a leg for its software not very long ago.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets to enjoy the new operating system, out on July 29, for free. In particular, PC enthusiasts won’t have things as straightforward.
The free offer is mostly aimed at users who already own a Windows machine.
If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 on your PC now, then you can get the new Windows 10 for free when you update your PC’s software like you do regularly. Chances are, you’ve already been asked to reserve your copy of Windows 10.
However, folks who want to “clean-install” their new OS from scratch, without the junk from before, will have to spend a bit more time to get around the restrictions. Here’s one way:
1. Upgrade your OS via your existing PC to get the new Windows 10 for free.
2. Once you get into Windows 10, create a backup CD or USB drive of the new OS.
3. Wipe your hard disk and install the new OS through the backup media.
This is a rather roundabout way to get things done, but should work if you insist on a clean OS for your PC.
It’s necessary because Microsoft is not simply giving the OS away for free – the upgrade offer is only valid for a year, anyway – but pushing it quickly to existing and new devices in the next 12 months.
There are several reasons for this. The new OS is more secure, for one, with an automatic patching feature that should help cut down security issues.
What if you are building a new PC? There’s no free ride, unfortunately. Microsoft says you have to buy a new license, like before. Windows 10 costs US$119.99 for the Home version and US$199.99 for the Pro version.
You can, of course, install an older version of Windows that you already own on the PC and upgrade from there.
But that’s also assuming these versions are not OEM or System Builder versions that PC shops such as those in Sim Lim Square usually use.
Unlike full-priced retail versions, an OEM licence is tied to one PC and is not allowed to be not be used on another new machine (see the difference here).
What about upgrading an SSD drive? It’s still unclear whether that would mean your PC is now considered a new, separate machine that requires a new license. Some users have upgraded without issues, though.
What’s for sure is that Windows is not free for everyone. Geeks who build their own PCs or want to get a clean install won’t have it as easy as clicking on an upgrade button.
Already tried out early previews of Windows 10? Tell us what you think.