Don’t risk the costly upgrade
If you’re using a Windows operating system, chances are you’ve encountered those persistent message to upgrade to Windows 10. While upgrading does take a little bit of time and patience, the upgrade itself to Windows 10 is free, or rather it has been up to this point. Unlike Apple, which allows users to upgrade at any point, to the newest operating system for free, Windows is taking a different approach and if you’re a procrastinator, you could be in trouble.
If you haven’t upgraded your system to Windows 10 by June 29, 2016, the upgrade will cost you $119. If the thought of upgrading right now is more than you can handle, there is another option to keep you from having to pay the hefty fee and still keep Windows 7 or 8 on your machine. What you’ll need to do is “reserve” your copy of Windows 10 before July 29.
Reserving your copy
To “reserve” your copy of Windows 10, you’ll want to go ahead and act on that notification to upgrade. Once, you’ve completed the upgrade, you can roll back to Windows 7 or 8, keeping the original verson, but “reserve” your Windows 10 license, while it’s still free.
Your version of Windows 7 or 8 must be genuine or you will not be eligible to upgrade for free.
How can you have two versions?
When you receive a notification to upgrade to Windows 10 from your PC, Microsoft knows you’re running a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8 (also known as a digital entitlement). Microsoft notes this on their servers and knows you can download Windows 10 for free. Once this is noted, you can install and reinstall Windows 10. It will remain active, since it’s noted on the Microsoft servers, without the product key. Since it’s noted on the servers, this allows you to install a different operating system (like Windows 7 or 8), while still maintaining your Windows 10 eligibility and activation.
There are a couple of caveats here, however. The upgrade is tied to each PC, so you’ll need to repeat this process for each eligible PC. Also, if you upgrade the motherboard, or install Window 10 on another PC that didn’t receive the digital entitlement mentioned above, it will not work. This differs from previous upgrades, because once you bought the upgrade with the product key, you could use it on any machine.
How to install and roll back
Before making any changes to your computer, you should back everything up to the Cloud, or an external hard drive, USB, or other storage medium. This ensures nothing gets lost forever. When you’re ready, the easiest way to begin installation and roll back is to use the built-in roll back feature. Be warned, however, some programs may be removed during the upgrade and you’ll need to reinstall them.
To get started, click on your upgrade notification, or click here, to get started. You’ll need to run the tool and agree to upgrade. After you’ve gotten Windows 10 installed, click the “Start” button and then navigate to “Settings.” Find “Update & Security,” then “Activation.” Double-check and make sure you see “Windows 10 on this device is activated with a digital entitlement.” (Remember, this is how the server knows you’ve activated). If it does, you’re good to go; if it doesn’t, you may need to wait while the Microsoft server updates before you roll back.
If you’re activated, click on the “recovery” tab and then you’ll see “get started” under “go back to Windows 7/8.1.” Click the appropriate option and Windows 10 will automatically uninstall itself and restore your old Windows system. Once roll back is complete, make sure you double-check for missing programs and reinstall those. Then, you’re all set.
Alternative (but not better) options
There is another method to keep your programs in place, but it is more complicated. It involves created an image of your existing Windows operating systems, but to do so, you need an external hard drive with the same amount of room as your computer. You can use CDs, but the process can take nearly a day and you have to be in front of the computer to switch out the disc as they fill up. As long as you know which programs you’re running, and have the product keys to re-install them, the option above is your best (and easiest) bet.
If you don’t want to be out the money for upgrading at a later date, July 29, 2016 is your deadline.