Microsoft reveals who gets Windows 10, and how

Not everyone will be candidates; Windows Phone 8.0, for instance, isn't on the upgrade list.

Microsoft will upgrade only those PCs and tablets running Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update to Windows 10 later this year via the Windows Update service, the company revealed Wednesday.

Users of other, older editions will need to install the upgrade using physical media like a DVD or USB drive. Microsoft will offer consumers and some businesses free upgrades to Windows 10 throughout the 12 months following the operating system's launch this summer.

During a Thursday presentation at WinHEC in Shenzhen, China, Microsoft spelled out the upgrade paths for Windows 10.

On desktops and tablets, Windows Update will serve the Windows 10 upgrade to devices running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which debuted in early 2011, and those powered by the April 2014 Windows 8.1 Update. Microsoft tags the latter as "S14."

Upgrades will be possible from older versions, including the original 2009 edition, Windows 7 RTM (for "release to manufacturing"); Windows 8; and Windows 8.1 RTM. Those devices, however, will be upgradable only from installation media, like a DVD or USB drive, loaded with a disk image downloaded from Microsoft's servers as an .iso file.

The .iso file-physical media combination can also be used to upgrade Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 S14 systems; the most common scenario there would be when several devices are to be upgraded, in a small office, say, and the user doesn't want to repeatedly download the multi-gigabyte upgrade.

Microsoft has not yet spelled out all the details of the upgrade process, but what it calls the "direct upgrade" from Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 will presumably retain settings, applications and data.

There will be no upgrade path to Windows 10 from either the now-retired but still widely used Windows XP or its successor, Windows Vista. Metrics vendor Net Applications tapped XP's user share for February at about 21% of all Windows editions, and Vista's at just 2%.

Also on the nix list is Windows RT, the scaled-back Windows 8 Microsoft failed to push as a tablet OS. While Windows RT will receive a still-undefined update down the line, it won't be upgraded to Windows 10. The lack of an upgrade path from Windows RT may be the closest Microsoft ever comes to explicitly saying "RT is dead."

On the smartphone side, an upgrade to Windows Mobile 10 -- the name Microsoft used at WinHEC -- will be possible only from Windows Phone 8.1. Devices that remain on Windows Phone 8.0 will be out of luck.

The Windows Phone 8 situation seemed at odds with promises Microsoft made last year, when the Lumia Twitter account said, "We plan to upgrade all Windows Phone 8 devices to Windows 10 in the future."

Even though Net Applications pegged Windows Phone 8.1's user share for February at 59% of all Windows Phone devices, a sizable chunk -- 28% -- ran Windows Phone 8.0 that month. (About 13% of all Windows Phone smartphones ran the even older Windows Phone 7.5.)

Currently, both Windows 10 and Windows Mobile 10 are in the midst of their Technical Preview phases. Microsoft updated the former yesterday, but said one for the latter was not yet ready.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftoperating systemssoftware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Shining a light on creativity

MSI has long pushed the boundaries of invention with its ever-evolving range of laptops but it has now pulled off a world first with the new MSI Creative 17.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?