Microsoft launched Windows 10 earlier this year with a reservation system designed to tempt Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to upgrade for free. While it has been successful in getting Windows 10 onto more than 110 million devices, Microsoft is planning to get a lot more aggressive about upgrading existing machines.
Starting early next year, Microsoft says it’s planning to re-categorize Windows 10 as a "recommended update" in its Windows Update system. That means the Windows 10 upgrade process will download and start automatically on thousands of machines. "A user will be presented with a choice to install Windows 10," explains Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s head of Windows and devices, in an interview with The Verge. "They’ll come back to their PC and there will be a dialog where they can choose to upgrade to Windows 10 or choose not to upgrade to Windows 10."
Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will only see the upgrade prompt once
Myerson says Microsoft’s current plan involves it only presenting this dialog once to end users. Windows 10 will automatically download and start the upgrade process, depending on your Windows Update settings, but you can opt out and not receive nagging prompts to update. Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users on a metered connection will have to turn off automatic updates to prevent the Windows 10 installer from downloading automatically. Windows 10 is currently a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for a year, but Myerson didn't want to comment on the company's plans after July 29th 2016.
Microsoft is also making some changes designed to entice software pirates to upgrade. "If you try and upgrade a non-genuine PC to Windows 10 today it says the free upgrade is only available to genuine PCs," says Myerson. "We’re seeing people be creative to get around that block, and then many are actually going to the Windows Store and buying a genuine license." Microsoft has realized it's making it difficult for non-genuine Windows users to get genuine, so the company is planning to run an experiment in the US to get software pirates on board. Microsoft will offer a one-click opportunity to get a genuine Windows license from the Windows Store, but it won’t be a free upgrade. Pirates will have to purchase the genuine license and proceed with an upgrade.
This change in approach is all part of Microsoft’s overall effort to get 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within two or three years of its release. As long as Microsoft avoids nagging people to upgrade more than once, or forcibly updating Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, then this latest change won’t trigger a backlash. "We started out the update process, and we really hadn’t done anything like this before, so we started our with this process of getting people to reserve," explains Myerson. "We’re now kind of in this phase of ‘let’s make it easier for people to upgrade.’"
Verge Video: Windows 10 review - Is it worth the upgrade?