The Windows PC ecosystem is, in some ways, taking a U-turn, and returning to old ways. The free ride is coming to an end on 29 July, exactly one year after Microsoft rolled out the Windows 10 operating system (OS) for PCs, tablets, hybrids and laptops, after which it will no longer be able as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users. Here is all you need to know about it.

Free upgrade

There are just a few days left for you to avail of the free upgrade for your PC. If you do not download and activate Windows 10 before 29 July, you’ll have to pay a lot of money to upgrade at a later date. As the pricing stands at the moment, Windows 10 Home is priced at 7,990 and Windows 10 Pro costs 14,999 for a single PC licence. It is unlikely that Microsoft will extend the free upgrade period post 29 July, as so far there have been no developments suggesting such a thing.

Can your PC run Windows 10?

If your PC or laptop already runs Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, it shouldn’t have much trouble running Windows 10 either. Nevertheless, Microsoft suggests that your PC should have at least a 1GHz processor, at least 1GB RAM, at least 16GB hard drive space for the 32-bit version of the OS and 20GB for 64-bit OS, and a display with a resolution of at least 800x600 pixels.

It will totally depend on your PC and the hardware it runs, whether you get access to the full set of features such as Windows Hello (facial recognition or fingerprint based authentication), Cortana voice assistant and the tablet mode, among others.

What version will I get?

Before upgrading, you need to ensure that your existing Windows installation on the PC is genuine and activated. Otherwise, it will not be possible to activate the Windows 10 upgrade. And as for the version you will get, it is a like-for-like upgrade depending on what you already use.

If you are upgrading from Windows 7 Starter/Home Basic/Home Premium editions, you’ll be upgraded to the Windows 10 Home edition. If you are upgrading from Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, the Windows 10 Pro edition will be available for the upgrade.

If your PC runs Windows 8.1, the automatic upgrade will happen to the Windows 10 Home edition. In the meantime, Windows 8.1 Pro users will get upgraded to the Windows 10 Pro edition.

What happens to my data?

This upgrade is designed to not modify any user files, documents or installed apps. In a perfect scenario, it will simply replace the older OS system files with the newer set, and leave your stuff as is. But as a word of caution, we would suggest you take a backup of critical files and documents because there are always chances that something might go wrong during the installation—hardware driver errors and incomplete file downloads are some common scenarios.

Where is my licence key?

In case your PC ever needs repair or you need to reinstall the entire OS at some point, Windows 10 will make that easier. Microsoft has now added the Windows 10 Activation Troubleshooter feature to the OS. This means that your Windows 10 licence will be tied to your Microsoft accounts, which you link to the PC while setting it up. You buy a PC, you sign in for the first time, and that licence gets linked to your ID—no need to save any serial numbers or activation codes. Whenever you need to, just sign in with your Microsoft ID and head to Settings-> Update & Security-> Activation-> Troubleshoot to activate Windows 10 again. Till now, irrespective of whether it was Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10, it was a nightmare to reactivate Windows in case you changed the system hardware or ran into software problems which demanded a complete OS reinstall.

What if I say no?

In case you have been rejecting all of the prompts on your PC to upgrade the OS, do not worry. You can continue to reject the advances of Microsoft nudging you towards Windows 10. The Windows 7 or Windows 8/Windows 8.1 will continue to work normally in any case.

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