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Windows 10 stops being free on July 29; here’s what you need to know

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Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Windows 10 won’t be free much longer. On July 29, Microsoft plans to shut down the free upgrade option for its latest operating system — and will force users to pay. Some people don’t want Windows 10, and will be happy to see the end of those nagging upgrade prompts. But if you want the new OS, but keep putting it off, now is the time to act. If you wait until August, it will cost you a pretty penny.

Here’s a brief overview of what Windows 10 offers, how to install it, and how much it will cost after July 29.

Is Windows 10 any good?

We think Windows 10 is great. In fact, our computing editor Matt Smith thinks it’s the best version of Windows ever made, and the best desktop operating system out there right now. That’s right — it’s better than Mac OS X and the forthcoming MacOS Sierra.

Windows 10 runs and boots faster than Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, offers better security, and adds all sorts of features to the mix, including Cortana, a new default browser, and new windows management features. If you’re a Windows 8 user, you’ll be happy to see the return of the Start menu, and if you’re a Windows 7 user, you’ll finally have access to the Windows Store and the universal app platform. It works well on tablets and touchscreens without compromising the desktop experience.

The new Start Menu offers Live Tiles

The new Start Menu offers Live Tiles

There are some monetization schemes baked into Windows 10, sure, but on the whole, we think it’s a good deal for computer users. If you want to learn more, go ahead and read our complete review of Windows 10. You can also read about the update coming later this summer, the Windows 10 Anniversary Edition, which has all sorts of new features.

How much will Windows 10 cost after the July 29 deadline?

Windows 10, as we’ve said, is only free for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users until July 29. After that, anyone who wants to install Windows 10 will have to pay for the operating system. But how much will it cost?

  • Windows 10 Home currently costs $120 from the Microsoft Store.
  • Windows 10 Pro currently costs $200 from the Microsoft Store.
  • Upgrading from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro currently costs $100.

Most users eligible for the free upgrade will end up with Windows 10 Home, which offers most of the features that home users want. Windows 10 Pro offers advanced features such as Bitlocker, Secure Boot, Device Guide, and Windows Update for Business, which give advanced users — read: IT administrators — the ability to control all kinds of security settings.

In summary, for most users upgrading after July 29, Windows 10 will cost $120. If you want to avoid paying the upgrade fee, simply update now.

How do I upgrade to Windows 10 for free?

Most Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users have, at this point, seen countless pop-up notifications advertising the free Windows 10 upgrade. If you’ve seen these notifications, your Windows 10 upgrade is reserved.

Click the Windows 10 icon in your system tray, directly left of the clock, and follow the instructions to install Windows 10. Can’t find the icon in question? You might need to install some updates on your system. Check out our guide to installing Windows 10 when you can’t find the upgrade notification for a tutorial. We’ve also outlined solutions for common problems while installing Windows 10, in case you run into any issues.

We’ve found that upgrading to Windows 10 is safe and easy, and won’t affect your documents. Any time you upgrade an operating system, however, there is a chance that things will go wrong. For this reason, it’s a good idea to back up all of your essential documents to an external hard drive before starting the upgrade process.

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