It took Microsoft a while, but it finally figured out how to get more computer users to upgrade to its next version of Windows: give it away for free. Yep, if you haven't been reading my Windows 10 stories so far, then I have good news.
When Windows 10 arrives on July 29, you can upgrade your Windows 7 or 8.1 computer to Windows 10 for free (Windows 8 users will need to take the free upgrade to 8.1 first). However, last week it seems like Microsoft had opened up another way for anyone to get a free copy of Windows 10. But that good news was short lived as Microsoft backtracked. Sort of.
The story goes like this. Last Friday, Microsoft announced that anyone who downloaded the Windows 10 Insider preview would get Windows 10 for free. That left everyone scratching their heads because it seemed like an odd move, even for the "new" Microsoft.
Then Microsoft turned around a bit later and said only Windows 7 and 8.1 users would get 10 for free, and all was right with the universe again. But then, over the weekend, Microsoft executive Gabriel Aul tweeted that anyone "running a prerelease build connected with a registered MSA [Microsoft Account]" would get Windows 10 for free.
So, now everyone was back to head scratching, but at least that was the end of it, right?
There's a wrinkle no one knew about until now that clears up the confusion. Everyone assumed that once Windows 10 came out, the Insider program that offers the preview version of Windows 10 would stop, but it won't.
Microsoft said a while ago that Windows 10 is the last major version of Windows. From now on, it's going to release smaller, regular updates to the operating system. That means it's keeping the Insider program going to test out these updates before they hit the final version.
People who installed the preview version of Windows 10 can keep using Insider version for free, which means they'll always get the latest and greatest features and updates before they become official. However, you can only get the final release version of Windows 10 for free if you're upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1.
So, if you want to get Windows 10, and don't already own Windows 7 or 8.1, why wouldn't you just sign up for the Insider program and get it for free? Because the version you'd be running is never going to be completely stable.
You never know when a buggy new feature or iffy update is going to cause problems from month to month or even week to week. Most people will want the finished, stable version of Windows 10.
If you're running Vista or XP, would you take a potentially unstable version of Windows 10 for free, or pay the estimated $100 to upgrade to the stable version? Let me know in the comments.