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Free Win10 Upgrade Ends 7/29/2016

At the outset of 2015, Microsoft announced it would offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for devices running Windows 7 and 8.1. (Here’s a Terry Myerson blog post devoted to that topic, dated 1/21/2015.) That update was always planned to last one year from the release date for the new desktop OS. And sure enough, MS has now stated that the free Win10 upgrade ends on July 29, 2016, exactly one year to the day from that initial release date. MS Corporate VP Yusuf Mehdi stated this clearly in his May 5 post to the Windows Experience blog entitled “Windows 10 Now on 300 Million Active Devices — Free Upgrade Offer to End Soon.”

Here’s the relevant language, which appears at the tail end of the afore-cited blog post:

today, we want to remind you that if you haven’t taken advantage of the free upgrade offer, now is the time. The free upgrade offer to Windows 10 was a first for Microsoft, helping people upgrade faster than ever before. And time is running out. The free upgrade offer will end on July 29 and we want to make sure you don’t miss out. After July 29th, you’ll be able to continue to get Windows 10 on a new device, or purchase a full version of Windows 10 Home for $119.

The actual MSRP for Home is $119.99. For those interested in Windows 10 Pro instead, the “full version” MSRP is $200 in the USA. You can also find OEM versions of that license (good for installation on a single computer, but not transportable from one computer to another like the full version) for $140 or thereabouts. But according to Microsoft, that’s what it will take to jump on the Windows 10 bandwagon after the 7/29 deadline comes and goes.

Here’s the word, straight from MS Corporate VP Yusuf Mehdi.

How to beat the “free Win10 upgrade ends” restriction, if you must

Users running Windows 7 or 8.1 who don’t wish to migrate to Windows 10 before the expiration date hits can trade some time and effort against the future expense of buying a license thereafter. How’s that? Simply by upgrading, making a snapshot, then rolling back to the pre-upgrade machine state. In somewhat more detail, here’s a 10,000-foot overview of that process:

  • Start by making an image backup of your current running Windows 7 or 8.1 environment
  • Perform the upgrade install from that current environment to Windows 10
  • Apply all pending updates to that Windows 10 install, then make another image backup of the new Win10 environment
  • Restore the original image backup of your current running Windows 7 or 8.1 environment

You’ll be back where you started, but you’ll be out the time and effort required to make those backups and perform the upgrade. After July 29 comes and goes, you’ll be able to restore the image of the Windows 10 environment you created to exercise your free upgrade offer before the expiration date passed. You’ll also be out the storage space necessary to keep that upgrade image in suspense until you’re ready to wake it back up. If my experience is any guide, this will take 3-4 hours of your time, and somewhere between 20-25 GB of disk space on the low end, and probably no more than 100GB of disk space on the high end (YMMV, though, depending on how much stuff you allow Windows to keep in the Photos, Pictures, and Documents folders in the Windows Library environment). If you need more time, don’t let the free Win10 upgrade ends deadline catch you either napping or unaware!