Microsoft has informed that customers will not be able to avail free Windows 10 updates after July 29. This means if you have a Window 7 or Windows 8.1 laptop or PC, you will not be eligible for free upgrade. The only way to obtain Windows 10 is to either purchase an upgrade or full blown retail version.
The main purpose behind the introduction of free Windows 10 upgrade by the Redmond-based software giant is to make available Windows 10 to all customers of the previous Windows versions. Otherwise, their devices will become out-dated.
The very fact that the “free” tag is there, it doesn’t attract customers as only 300 million devices are currently running Windows 10, which is nowhere close to the billion target set by Microsoft. Despite low statistics, Microsoft will officially end the free upgrade offer on July 29.
Existing Users of Windows 7/8.1
If you are running Windows 7 or 8.1 after July 29, then you will have to buy Windows 10 license for $119 per user provided if you have not availed free upgrade offer. Even though Microsoft will not extend the free upgrade time limit, the company will likely introduce new offers for a limited period of time to attract more users to upgrade. Microsoft also announced that the sale of Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs will not be done by manufacturers from October 31, 2016.
Existing users who have availed the free upgrade offer
If you had already availed free Windows 10 upgrade offer, then you will have Windows 10 for free on the upgraded device because of the unique “digital entitlement” mechanism. This means your Windows 10 license will be associated with your specific hardware and hence you need not have to use a product key.
As soon as you upgrade to Windows 10, the Windows activation server automatically generates a Windows 10 license certificate named “digital entitlement” tied to your installation ID. You will be able to wipe your hard disk and install a fresh copy of Windows 10 on the same device if there is a need without a product key. The licensing manager will verify the existence of the machine ID to make sure that the activation process and the corresponding Windows 10 copy are genuine.
Rolling back to older Windows
You can easily roll back to Windows 7 or 8.1 (Settings | Update & security | Recovery) after you finished the Windows 10 upgrade process without any worry since the upgrade is tied to the hardware.
That being said, the point to note here is that you should activate your copy of Windows 10 before July 29 for free and then roll back to your older version within 31 days of the upgrade. This will enable you to activate Windows 10 anytime in the future without any need to pay for it.
Even if you work with Windows 7 or 8.1, the future seems to be bright for Windows 10 because of the upcoming anniversary update in August, which will ship with plenty of new features and improvements.