With just a day left for the official launch of Windows 10, tens of millions of PC users around the world are waiting to get their hands on the newest version of the Windows operating system.
Since Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade for Windows 7 as well as Windows 8.1 users, most users running Windows 7/8.1 have already registered for the free upgrade. They will get Windows 10 via Windows Update in the coming days.
That said, they are many users who are still apprehensive about the upgrade and don’t have full clarity about the free upgrade and how it will be delivered.
The following are some of the critical things you might want to know before upgrading to your Windows 7/8.1 installation to Windows 10.
It’s free for life (not just for the first year)
Many users are under the impression that Windows 10 is free only for the first year. This is not true.
The fact is, Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users who upgrade to Windows 10 in the first year. In plain English, you need to upgrade your Windows 7/8.1 installation to Windows 10 before July 29, 2016, to avail the free upgrade offer.
And once you upgrade to Windows 10, you can run Windows 10 on that device for free, for years.
Meanwhile, if you’re running a pirated version of Windows 7/8.1, please read our Upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7/8.1 pirated article for detailed information.
Upgrade to Windows 10 without losing installed programs
It looks like some users who are impressed with Windows 10 don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10 as they are under the impression that all installed applications will be removed during the upgrade process.
However, the fact is, one can upgrade Windows 7/8.1 installation to Windows 10 without losing installed programs. Most of the programs that work with Windows 7/8.1 will continue to work great on Windows 10 as well. Only your current antivirus programs might be removed during the upgrade process. And after the upgrade, you can install the antivirus software again.
We recommend you go through our how to check if installed programs are compatible with Windows 10 guide to know what all applications are compatible with Windows 10.
You don’t need your Windows 7/8.1 product key
You will not be asked to enter your Windows 7/8.1 product key during the upgrade process, meaning you don’t need to retrieve the serial key from the BIOS/UEFI or the registry before upgrading to Windows 10.
You can go back to Windows 7/8 from Windows 10
While it’s a good idea to download and try Windows 10 on a virtual machine before upgrading to Windows 10, you will be able to go back to Windows 7/8.1 installation if you are not happy with Windows 10. You will have about a month to make the final call.
Some third-party programs like EaseUS System GoBack allows you to create a backup of your Windows 7/8.1 installation before upgrading to Windows 10 so that you can easily downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7/8.1.
You can perform the upgrade without losing data
Like installed programs, upgrading to Windows 10 will not delete your data. Your documents, photos, and other files will be preserved during the upgrade.
You can reinstall or clean install after the upgrade
A lot of PC users want to perform a clean install of Windows 10 instead of upgrading. For some reason, you can’t clean install Windows 10 without upgrading to Windows 10. However, once you upgrade your Windows 7/8.1 installation to Windows 10, you will be able to clean install or reinstall Windows 10.
Don’t worry about the required space
If the drive where Windows 7/8.1 is installed has limited free space, you can complete the upgrade process by connecting an external USB drive. If the upgrade tool finds that the available free space is not enough to carry out the upgrade, you will be asked to connect an external drive.
Your favorite features might not be available in Windows 10
By now, you probably know that Windows Media Center is not part of Windows 10. If you’re running a version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center, the Media Center feature will be removed during the upgrade. Likewise, desktop gadgets are also not available in Windows 10.
Upgrading to Windows 10 is a good idea and worth it.