Those of us in the IT world know that the idea of a software upgrade is typically accompanied by a dollar amount. So if we hear “free” and “upgrade” in the same sentence, we’re going to do our due diligence to find out what the catch is.
In less than a week, Microsoft will allow eligible Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Yep. Zero cost. Microsoft has announced that it will offer this free upgrade during the operating system's first year starting on its launch date - July 29th. After recently returning from Microsoft’s World Partner Conference in Orlando and asking the hard questions for you, we can confirm that the upgrade is indeed free and there is no “catch.” Does it earn Microsoft some brand cred? Sure. Does it continue to tie you to Microsoft devices? Of course. But we can tell you that you won’t be paying Microsoft a penny for the Windows 10 upgrade down the road if 1) you are eligible and if 2) you take advantage of the upgrade on July 29th or within the one-year offer window.
Eligible Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users should see a white Windows icon in their bottom task bar. The icon, which was installed via a Windows update earlier this year, is an opportunity to reserve the free Windows 10 upgrade. The update will be available starting on July 29th, but many users have started reserving their free upgrade now by clicking on the icon.
Although Enterprise customers are not included in the terms of free Windows 10 upgrade, those customers with active Software Assurance subscription in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer, according to Microsoft.com.
With the launch date just one week away, here is a look at some of the highlights that Windows 10 has to offer.
I’m back! -The Start Menu
Most users of Windows 8 mourned the loss of the iconic Windows start menu. The simple icon in the bottom left corner of every Windows screen (also accessible by a branded key on the keyboard) disappeared in Windows 8. Microsoft did this to appeal to users who were using Windows 8 on tablet devices or laptops and desktops with touch screen capabilities. They moved from the traditional vertical list of programs and system options to a tablet-like display.
Windows 8 users were very vocal about their disdain for the switch, and those who didn’t upgrade clung tightly to Windows 7. Microsoft heard those cries and returned the Start Menu to Windows 10. While it does offer the option to tab programs and applications for touch-screen functionality, these items can be “unpinned” for a streamlined, classic Windows Start Menu look.
Cortana, i.e. Your New Work Buddy
Although Apple’s Siri typically gets all the attention when it comes to “digital assistant” software, her time in the limelight may be coming to an end as Cortana contends for the lead role. Microsoft is forging a new frontier by including Cortana (originally in introduced with the Windows Phone 8.1) functionality as part of Windows 10. A digital personal assistant, Cortana can search for files on your computer, set reminders, and conduct web searches for pretty much anything you can think of. Cortana is most ideal for those who telecommute and have little one on one interaction during the day. ;)
Goodbye I.E., Hello Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge will be the default web browser in Windows 10. The browser gives users the opportunity to write, annotate and highlight directly on webpages – ultimately giving businesses the ability to have real-time interactive and visual discussions without having to pull screen grabs or print-outs. Other browser features include “reading list” which saves articles and content you want to revisit later, and the “Hub” where items like your favorites, reading list and browsing history are kept in one central location.
The Continuum Experience
Ever attempted to edit an Excel attachment from your phone? What if you could connect your phone to a screen in your hotel room and get the full PC experience? When it comes to the benefits of Windows Continuum for business, we’ll just let Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore do the talking…
Timely Security Updates
Windows 10 means 24/7 security patch updates for consumers. Ditching it’s previous “Patch Tuesday” schedule, the new security patch approach means Microsoft will push out patches to all Windows 10 users on all devices as soon as the fixes are confirmed. However, pcmag.com has reported that everyday consumers will be the guinea pigs for these live updates while businesses will have the benefit of waiting for any bugs to “shake out.” Windows Update for Business will still allow business IT departments to “retain control of the patching process” with monthly patching bundles, according to pcmag.com. Enterprise users, stay tuned, because we'll be covering the security features of Windows 10 Enterprise next week.
The upgrade allows small and mid-sized businesses who are currently on Windows 7 or 8.1 to take advantage of the latest innovation and security updates Microsoft has to offer. iCorps clients can rest assured they will be taken care of by their IT consulting teams. If your business is running on Windows 7 or 8.1 and would like to take advantage of this upgrade but don’t have the resources to do so, contact us now.
For a list of more Windows 10 features, visit Microsoft’s blog here.
With more than two decades of experience, the iCorps IT consulting team is dedicated to delivering excellence to our customers by staying ahead of market trends and understanding new technologies that could impact their business. iCorps delivers superior IT outsourcing, IT support and technology solutions implemented by the best consultants in the Boston, Philadelphia and New York (NY) areas.