Last year Microsoft announced that (almost)anyone with Windows 7 or 8 device could upgrade for free to Windows 10 within a year from the July launch date. In just a short time, this window for free Windows will expire. So what happens if you don’t upgrade?
The answer is nothing will happen. Yep, seriously. Nothing will happen and you can put your mind at ease. Your PC will still run as is. Although it should be safe to assume that Microsoft will retire the GWX(Get Windows 10) tray icon and nagware enabling hassle free computing on 7 and 8 devices. A return to pre-Windows 10 experiance on 7/8 should return.
What about support?
According to Microsoft’s lifecycle fact sheet Windows 7 is currently scheduled to be on extended support until January 14, 2020 with Windows 8 extending to October 14, 2023. So although possible that Microsoft would cut these short, it is highly unlikely as they have a good track record of only extending and not shortening OS support. However, don’t think that Windows 7 will be extended like XP. This is probably the main reason for the free upgrade.
Is that it? So why the pressure to upgrade?
Yes, that should be exactly how it happens. As for why the pressure to upgrade? That can only be speculation as Microsoft hasn’t formally stated why they have been so aggressive with the whole process. Some say it’s to boost the statistic of how many devices it’s running on. Some think it’s to expand users who can use the Windows unified store platform, others even think it’s so they can track users to make money that way.
I personally think it’s more or less a way to prevent another XP situation. Windows 7, arguably the new XP with it’s robust performance, no-nonsense computing and familiar interface have made it the new beloved OS since XP has been completely retired. From what I have read and heard from people is that XP worked well enough and they didn’t want to pay for another upgrade when their machine was still fine. Granted Windows 10 has almost the same hardware requirements to run so upgrading a 7 machine to 10 currently wouldn’t be as bad as upgrading from XP to 7 (or to Vista). So to better serve their customers I feel they made this free to let them upgrade so they can continue to use their machine and receive updates without that cost that was thrown at them when XP ended.
Why was this the only major incident like this? I believe it went like this. Previously computer technology was advancing at an incredible rate. Moore’s law was in full effect and machine power doubled every two years(18 months). So, similar to the beginning of the smart phone era, people bought devices, used them and then wanted upgrades as they saw measurable justifiable gains within 3-4 years. As Windows comes bundled on most machines, they got whatever the new version was with their new device. Then in the early to mid 2000’s computers had reached a point where they became good enough for a lot of folks using it for everyday tasks. Suddenly the need to upgrade was lost and machine life extended from 4-5 years to 7-8 years or longer.
So now you have folks buying machines with XP instead of failed Vista and Windows 7 launches in 2009. Machines from before Windows 7 are still usable today, but depending on the hardware, it may not be able to run newer Windows. Peoples machines worked, but they didn’t want to upgrade again come 2014. People didn’t like the idea of paying again since they bought a PC, and the early years of mainstream computer sales reinforced the idea that the OS was not something you bought separately.
So to avoid another incident where people are clinging to Windows 7 and 8 in the 2020’s I feel Microsoft launched this program to help get a more unified base. They could have been so aggressive with it to ensure that only folks who really wanted to avoid it would stay behind as they would want to anyway. To all others, they get their upgrade and their PC will work until it doesn’t or Windows requires some crazy new hardware to run. Those who didn’t or couldn’t afford to upgrade would have gotten the newest version and people should be happier. Although the aggressiveness used hasn’t made any friends and their marketing team really should have capitalized on the cost concerns and eventual end of life.
Fear not! The end of the free upgrade period should be uneventful. If you haven’t upgraded, everything will continue as normal(minus the nagging upgrade screen, hooray!). So if you want to upgrade be sure to do so now or else you will have to purchase it. Otherwise ride out these final months and keep enjoy using your Windows 7 or 8 install. Just keep in mind that although their end of life dates seem far off, start planning now for a new PC or purchasing an upgrade once the time comes.