Windows 10 – Should Your Business Take Advantage Of The Free Upgrade?

windows 10 desktop

Windows 10 is the latest version of Windows from Microsoft, looking to win back customers, largely in the business area, that were disappointed with various aspects of Windows 8 and its modern Live Tile interface.

Windows 10 addresses these issues, producing a faster cleaner version of Windows and one which sees the return of the Desktop as the default for traditional form factor PCs and laptops, and a Start Menu which although more sophisticated than in Windows 7 is familiar enough to appease those who were vocally opposed its removal.

Microsoft has confirmed that computers with a licensed copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will receive a free upgrade to Windows 10, for one year from release, for the lifetime of that device. So the upgrade license is not transferable from the installed device (as per OEM license restrictions) and you have a year from release to perform the upgrade.

Initial wording quoted “consumers” leading many businesses to believe they would not be included in the free upgrades. This is not the case however, and Microsoft has confirmed any machine with a Standard and Professional license will be upgradable for free. Only businesses running Enterprise editions won’t receive the free upgrade, however most of those larger customers are most likely running Software Assurance which covers them for the upgrade anyway.

A condition for receiving a free license is the tightened security from Microsoft. Outside of Enterprise environments, updates to the core operating system were received via Windows Update directly from Microsoft. Traditionally users could select whether to receive all updates, critical updates only, or turn updates off all together. Under Windows 10 this option is removed completely, updates are downloaded automatically, and notification of when they will be installed is presented to the user when they are available. You can choose to install them immediately, but you cannot delay installing them past the determined time.

microsoft surface 3 running windows 10

Overall I’m in favour of this, the reason behind the move is to try and keep customers computers up to date and secure, something the delayed or turned off Windows Updates option prevented. Its no good complaining about Microsoft having an insecure operating system when you refuse to let it fix vulnerabilities and make itself more secure.

Another new feature that businesses should welcome is a new web browser. Internet Explorer has so many negative associations Microsoft has introduced a new browser, codenamed Spartan, which will be the default browser in Windows 10. IE will still remain available for back compatibility purposes, so don’t worry if you have a legacy applications you need to run in IE, they will still work.

Spartan uses a new “Edge” layout engine that is faster and designed for the “modern web” and one of its key new features is the ability to annotate webpages and store and share them for later discussion – something that could be very useful in a sales environment.

There have been preview builds of Windows 10 available since the first Windows Technical Preview released 1st October 2014. The final release date unconfirmed at this point, its likely to be Released To Manufacturing (RTM) around the middle of the year to allow computers running Windows 10 to be on the shelves around late August/September time – to meet Microsoft’s reported desire to have units available in time for ‘back to school’.

If you’re a business that only last year finally removed Windows XP from your environment, it may seen daunting to consider another upgrade now. This upgrade will be free, which removes the direct financial impact, but the in-place upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 is better than ever, meaning unlike Windows XP you don’t necessarily have to erase and reinstall everything from scratch.

This post was written by Rob Gordon, an IT geek, gadget lover and blogger. Rob has been using the internets since 1994 when the only streaming video was that coffee pot in Cambridge (rip).... Follow Rob on Twitter - @robgordon -