The general availability date for free updates to Windows 10 will be July 29. That, at least, is what Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president for operating systems, stated in a company blog post yesterday.

But these updates will not happen automatically, as a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to CMSWire. 

Current users of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 8.1 will be invited to have Microsoft “reserve” their updates. The invitation process will begin at some point before July 29.

Exodus II

According to the company, only users of the latest versions of the Windows 7 and Windows 8 series will be eligible to receive, through the Windows Update process, an app called Get Windows 10. 

Service Pack 1 is the latest edition of Windows 7, and regular users of Windows 8 who did not change their Windows Update settings should already have been upgraded to 8.1.

The key word there is “should.” In my experience, many PC owners dissatisfied with Windows 8 used their machines so seldom that they never upgraded. The latest data from Internet statistics firm NetMarketShare projects that more than 3.5 percent of all operating systems in current use are actually non-upgraded Windows 8. 

Those users will have to upgrade before making the move to Win10.

“We are excited to offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year,” the Microsoft spokesperson told CMSWire Monday, being very specific while leaving out the obvious implications.

The Get Windows 10 app was not yet being broadcast to all Windows 8.1 Pro users as of yesterday. Once it’s installed, at some point thereafter, users will be notified that a free upgrade will become available to them. The notification will look like a Windows 10 icon in the taskbar’s notification area.

That icon may appear before July 29, and will lead the customer to a page where the free upgrade may be reserved. 

The actual upgrade itself will not be available any time before July 29. However, the notification of the upgrade may actually appear somewhat later than July 29, according to the spokesperson, depending upon the customer’s device.

“We’re starting with a smaller subset of machines and will slowly begin notifying all users who have compatible devices,” the spokesperson said. “Some users will see notifications before July 29 and others will see notifications after July 29. You can reserve your upgrade at any time on any compatible PC by clicking on the Get Windows 10 app or the Windows Update control panel.”

Registration for an Invitation to a Request

Get Windows 10
According to an FAQ published by Microsoft yesterday, one can reserve an upgrade without having received a notification first that an upgrade is available. And according to the spokesperson, one does not have to reserve the upgrade in order to upgrade.

“We’ll notify everyone who has reserved that their upgrade is ready as soon as Windows 10 is available,” said the spokesperson. “You can upgrade even if you don’t reserve, and we will begin notifying customers of their free upgrade over several weeks. We’ll start with devices we believe we believe will have the best Windows 10 upgrade experience, and then notify other users over the next several weeks.”

No details are available yet as to how the company will decide which devices are eligible at what specific times.

The invitation/reservation process will only apply to consumer-grade Windows. Users of Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic and Home Premium and Windows 8.1 Standard will be invited to upgrade to Windows 10 Home. Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate, and Windows 8.1 Pro and Pro for Students users will be invited to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.

Enterprise customers will receive any upgrades to which they may be entitled through the Software Assurance program, although Microsoft has given plenty of indication that this process will be subject to change as well.

Testers of any of the Windows 10 Insider Preview builds will be able to skip the invitation process altogether, and receive their upgrades through Windows Update, which is the same channel testers have been using to maintain the most current builds.

Presumably, users who upgrade using the Get Windows 10 app will become registered Microsoft Account holders, if they are not so already. It was Windows 8’s intention to use the Microsoft Account as the principal login identity provider. Microsoft is not yet saying whether Win10 upgraders will also, by default or by choice, by registering for some other service (obviously OneDrive comes to mind, but Office 365 is a possibility).

What's That Again?

So to summarize:  You wait for the app to appear in Windows Update, then you install the app. From there, you wait for the registration notice to appear, which you use to reserve your upgrade if you wish. Then you wait for the availability notice to appear on the taskbar or in Windows Update, and then you click that notice to begin.

The Microsoft spokesperson portrays this mechanism for ensuring the distribution of upgrades as “a playful, light approach to informing users about the free upgrade offer for Windows 10.”

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by Christopher Michel.

Simpler Media Group, 2015