Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade to users running licensed versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. This is not the same as a free OS, it is an free upgrade; you have to have Win7 or Win8.1 installed and genuine.
The upgrade path is being worked out now while Windows 10 is still being developed and tested. You won't be able to upgrade until after Windows 10 is Released To Manufacturing (RTM) and is available to the end user.
The offer is very generous, but it is also a time limited offer. Users can upgrade from Win7 or Win8.1 for up to 1 year after the RTM. That is also very generous - not 30 days, not 90 days, a full year!
Anyone who doesn't take advantage of this offer will have to purchase Windows 10. Why not prepare your system for Win10 over the next year and a half?
But wait, you say. I just moved up from XP to Win7 or from Win7 to Win8.1 ... now I have to upgrade again?
No, you don't have to accept the free upgrade.
Some might say: I don't like Win8.1 (insert reason here), is the GUI the same?
The user interface in the January Technical Preview release makes Win10 different from Win8.1. There is still a separation of Desktop and Modern GUIs, but the coordination between the two is much better.
A common misconception is that the Desktop interface takes second fiddle to the Modern interface. The is just wrong, both interfaces can be used as peers. Which interface you choose to use is your choice. It's more a matter of knowing what can be done and how to do it.
Think of it like a car: You bought a new car 3 years ago and are thinking about getting a new one. Your current car runs well and you like the style color, and overall feel of the car. Then you get hit with sticker shock and decide to run the car a few more years.
The free Win10 upgrade offer eliminates any sticker shock - its' FREE.
Or you went ahead and bought a new car but all of the knobs are in different locations - it takes a while for you to turn on the radio instead of the windshield wipers, but not that long.
(I still turn on the rear window wiper instead of the windshield wipers in our car and we've had it for 6 years )
There is a lot going on over at TenForums., why not take a peek or join the forum so you can participate.
If you join TenForums, do so with the intent to make Windows 10 better. Please resist the temptation to carry any love of Windows 7 or negative Windows 8.1 bias with you. They are both excellent Operating Systems.
I for one do not want to make TenForums another place people can vent about Windows 8.1 or state that they'll stay on Windows 7 forever. You can post those things on SevenForums and EightForums, you might already have expressed those opinions. All I ask is that TenForums does not become yet another place for the same thing to be said again.
Please understand that I'm not telling anyone what they can or cannot post
- I'm only expressing my opinion on the value of continued debate of things that have been discussed, debated, and argued elsewhere ad infinitum and ad nauseam.
If you try Win10 and don't like it, that's ok. Politely say that you didn't like the test drive and leave the showroom. Upgrading or not upgrading to Win10, when available, is a personal decision. Stay on the operating system you are comfortable using for as long as it works for you.
But..... if you don't accept the free Win10 upgrade offer while it is offered, you will have to pay for Win10 later if you want to upgrade.
Keep in mind that you can do both, keep your current system and get the free upgrade. It will take a little work to prepare, but it's not that difficult. I'm sure that by the time the RTM Win10 comes around, some member will write a tutorial that will help you through the process.
Basically, you would create an system image (a partition backup) of your machine with the current OS just the way you like it. Then upgrade to Win10 and create another system image with the machine upgraded to Win10. The two images allow you to switch back and forth by restoring the image. If you want to run both the current OS and Win10 - there are plenty of ways to do that and there are tutorials that take you step-by-step through he processes (dual boot, Virtual Machine, Boot-to-VHD...)
If you sort of like Win10, but need help understanding some aspect(s) - post over there. Same folks as here will be more than happy to offer answers, guidance, and help.
Can you upgrade to Win10 today?
No, there is no upgrade yet, there is only a Preview version that you can test. These are early releases of what Win10 might look like - theses are not finished product.
It's a work in in progress: things will change, things might not work, things will be fix, and things will break. Overall, my experience with the Technical Preview since October has been very positive. The January Preview release looks very good, but testing will tell how solid the release is. It's alpha testing, not even beta testing - but it's testing well.
How can you test drive Win10? You'll find the answer on TenForums.
Windows 10: The Next Chapter
Windows Insider program