In a bold departure from its previous practice of charging for new versions of Windows, Microsoft is offering a free upgrade to Windows 10.

Perhaps it’s an apology for Windows 8, or a “thank you” to many years of customer loyalty to Windows? A cynic might say it’s because Apple does it, or because Android is free. As an IT veteran responsible for maintaining multiple copies of software, I think it’s because supporting multiple Windows versions is expensive, and there’s not enough revenue to justify the massive cost.

So, to reduce that cost, you offer everyone a free upgrade, and hope they flock to the new version. You put a time limit on it, to encourage rapid adoption, and make your money off the version shipped on new PCs and tablets.

Should I Upgrade Now or Not?

The obvious question is “Should I do it or not?” There’s no one simple answer that applies to all users, but here are some things to think about:

  1. Will my software work on Windows 10? Not necessarily, much will work day one, some will be fixed within a few months, and some never will. Just like with prior upgrades. Some will require new versions at increased cost.
  2. Will my existing hardware, printers, scanners and the like, work with Windows 10. Same answer as question 1.
  3. Will I be able to go back to Windows 7 or 8? It depends. Do you have a good image backup, or just your data? If the latter, do you have an install media and product keys for your current software? Going back will vary between inconvenient, painful, and impossible, based on those answers.

So, let’s say you’re the adventurous sort, and just go for it. So, what’s the worst that can happen? It fails, but leaves you stranded with a non-working PC. Now what?

You call IT support, and yell “Help!” It will cost you, and depending on your answer to question 3 above , you will pay a little or a lot to go back to where you were. You may also have to wait, lots of people will make the same mistake at the same time.

Let’s say it works, but you don’t like it, or it won’t run an app you depend on.  You can wait it out, and hope for a quick update from the software vendor, or roll it back.

Talk to Us First

Or you could talk to IT support first. If you’re running a business, then this is the smart choice. We can test your software and hardware on Windows 10 first, and determine when compatible versions will be available. We can also give you an estimate of the total cost of upgrading, so you can plan properly.

For our Managed Services clients, we have the option to block the upgrade until you’re ready to move forward, so you don’t even see it and inadvertently upgrade before you’re ready.

So, while we applaud Microsoft for its bold move, please look before you leap. Plan ahead, and truly benefit from this innovative offer.