Good news, parts of Patriot Act expired! Good news, Microsoft is taking reservation for Windows 10 which will be released for PCs and tablets on July 29; the upgrade is free for folks running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
Microsoft's Terry Myerson said:
On July 29, you can get Windows 10 for PCs and tablets by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer, or on a new Windows 10 PC from your favorite retailer. If you purchase a new Windows 8.1 device between now and then, the Windows 10 upgrade will be available to you and many retail stores will upgrade your new device for you.
You can reserve your spot to receive a Windows 10 upgrade by clicking on the small Windows icon on the right side of your taskbar.
A new windows pops up where you click on "Reserve your free upgrade."
You'll next see "your upgrade is reserved" with the option to receive an email confirmation of your reservation. Once Windows 10 is released and downloaded to your device, you'll get a notification to install it right then or to pick a convenient time if you didn't backup before July 29.
The free Windows 10 upgrade will come as a 3GB download. Microsoft says to plan an hour for the installation, although it might only take about 20 minutes on newer devices. Older devices could take longer than an hour. The opportunity to grab Windows 10 for free is valid until July 29, 2016.
If you don't see the small "Get Windows 10" icon, then run Windows Update as it can mean several things: your device doesn't have at least Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1; or Windows Update or automatic updates are turned off; or you have blocked or uninstalled the Windows Update functionality. It could also mean "your device is not running genuine Windows" and updates won't help. People with pirated copies of Windows might take note of the Windows 10 prices that Newegg revealed over the weekend when it began taking pre-orders.
There is another reason you might not see the Windows icon for reserving your free upgrade. Microsoft added, "PCs that we determine cannot run Windows 10 will not see the Get Windows 10 app before July 29, 2015. After July 29, 2015, we'll enable the icon in the system tray. This is to help ensure that you can easily check your PC's compatibility if you choose."
Along those lines, even if you do see the Windows icon to reserve, you might also want to click on the menu button on the upper left of the reservation window and "check your PC" for potential compatibility issues with your current devices and apps. Hopefully you won't have any issues, but I was warned about wireless Bluetooth-enabled headphone problems. Peachy.
Other feature deprecation issues, system and additional requirements, and upgrade editions are listed on the Windows 10 specifications page. Below are a few examples:
- Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.
- Windows Hello requires specialized illuminated infrared camera for facial recognition or iris detection or a finger print reader which supports the Window Biometric Framework.
- Two factor authentication requires the use of a PIN, Biometric (finger print reader or illuminated infrared camera), or a phone with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities.
Microsoft has several answers listed in the Windows 10 upgrade FAQs, but it doesn't address hard drive failure or if you want to install Windows 10 on a different hard drive. Since there would be no earlier version of Windows on a new drive from which to upgrade, then I'm guessing it's likely not free.
You don't have to reserve, but Microsoft said reserving is "the easiest way to get the free upgrade."
Once Windows 10 is available, we'll begin notifying devices that their free upgrade is available. Just open the Get Windows 10 app to schedule your upgrade. Note: Some notifications will go out as soon as Windows 10 is available; others may go out in the weeks or months following.
Microsoft said "some editions" of Windows are excluded from the free upgrade: "Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1."