TODAY MARKS the final countdown to Windows 10. In one month, the wait will be over and the whole world will get to see what the Microsoft team has come up with in an attempt to redeem itself after the cringemaking failure of Windows 8.
As recently as April, Joe Belfiore told a Build press conference when asked about pricing for Windows 10, "I don't know", citing his desire to get Windows 10 on as many machines as possible during the free period before worrying about that sort of thing.
That said, there has been some detail. We understand that the OS will be available on USB sticks rather than the outdated CDs of old. WinFuture claims that the DVD and USB versions of the software will cost the same as a digital download of Windows 10 - $119 (£75) and $199 (£126) respectively - but a report at Hexus tells a different story.
Leaked SKUs suggest that the USB flash drive version of Windows 10 Home costs $144.23, around $24 extra, while the Windows 10 Pro version will cost $238, around $38 more.
But the fact is, at the moment, noone but Microsoft knows. Which seems odd when you still have almost a quarter of the market that won't qualify for the free upgrade.
Microsoft recently clarified its position over licensing arrangements for Windows 10. Microsoft has been guilty of muddying the waters over who gets a freebie and who doesn't. Now, finally it seems a bit clearer.
Windows 10 Insider Programme users who leave the programme will not automatically get a Windows 10 (full) licence unless they qualify by having a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 licence.
However, because the Windows Insider programme is going to continue, anyone who doesn't qualify for the upgrade will be able to carry on getting Windows 10 via the Insider Programme, albeit a beta version. But they won't ever qualify for the full retail version just for being an Insider.
This was actually our understanding from day one, but confusion has continued to reign over the situation after some contradictory messages.
Windows XP, Vista and other OS users have always had to pay (with Windows 10 Home and Pro set to cost $119 (£75) and $199 (£126) respectively). This meant that rumours that XP and Vista users who had pirated copies and members of the Windows Insider Programme would also get a freebie were not true.
A blog post by Gabe Aul, general manager of the Microsoft Operating System Group data and fundamentals team, over the weekend announced that Insiders would start getting nag screens in the next build telling them to add their Microsoft Account (MSA) details - the standard login format for Windows 8, an obscure option for previous editions.
"This change is for the Windows Insider Program ONLY, and is specific to how we’re delivering the Insider Preview builds. Once available on July 29th, you do not need an MSA to upgrade Windows 10 on your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PCs if they are not receiving Insider Preview builds," he said.
"You will not be required to use an MSA on new PCs that come with Windows 10 preinstalled or clean installed from media. Some features in Windows 10 do require an MSA to use, such as downloading apps in the Windows Store."
Clear so far? No? Good. It's all very confusing. We were warned all along that terms for the Insider programme would be subject to change, but yeech!
The post goes on to explain: "Windows Insiders running the Windows 10 Insider Preview (Home and Pro editions) with their registered MSA connected to their PC will receive the final release build of Windows 10 starting on July 29th.
"This will come as just another flight. I've gotten a lot of questions from Windows Insiders about how this will work if they clean installed from ISO. As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the MSA you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build and remain activated.
"Once you have successfully installed this build and activated, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh."
Now that's pretty clear. It says that Windows Insiders who connect their Microsoft accounts will get the deal. Yay.
But then the post changed: "Windows Insiders running the Windows 10 Insider Preview (Home and Pro editions) with their registered MSA connected to their PC will receive the final release build of Windows 10 starting on July 29th.
"This will come as just another flight. I've gotten a lot of questions from Windows Insiders about how this will work if they clean installed from ISO. As long as you are running an Insider Preview build and connected with the MSA you used to register, you will receive the Windows 10 final release build.
"Once you have successfully installed this build, you will also be able to clean install on that PC from final media if you want to start over fresh. It’s important to note that only people running Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can upgrade to Windows 10 as part of the free upgrade offer.
Now this version of the post clarifies what we understood to be the definition of those who qualify for the freebie. But then on Twitter this happened:
Was this a case of a nod being as good as a wink to a blind bat Did Gabe himself not know what's going on? Does Microsoft not have a clue either?
Finally, overnight, Gabe has cleared matters up and brought it down to this: "Do you want to continue as a Windows Insider and keep getting preview builds after 7/29? "Or do you want to upgrade your Genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 system that has been getting Windows 10 Insider Preview builds to the 7/29 release and stop being an Insider?"
Microsoft recently announced that it was simplifying its terms and conditions to be more user friendly and natural. In doing so it seems to have confused the frack out of everyone.
Fortunately, The INQUIRER is here to help. We've created a handy, plain English guide, which you will find here later on today.
Also in the blog post was news that Project Spartan will be formally renamed Windows Edge in the next Insider build. This makes it, in effect, a totally new app so you'll need to back up your favourites, cookies and reading list before you do your next upgrade. µ
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