Microsoft reinvented the release cycle and upgrade path when it unveiled Windows 10 on July 29, 2015, automatically allowing users of Windows 8 and above to upgrade free provided they had a licensed version in use. In the “reservation phase” users were able to indicate their interest in the new version through a creative icon that appeared on system trays automatically. Aligning with Microsoft's cloud-first, mobile-first strategy, users were notified that their upgrade was ready for installation on, or shortly after July 29, and the installation was then at the discretion of the user when to install the upgrade.
Today, Microsoft reports more than 110 million devices running Windows 10, leaving questions about the future of the product and the upgrade path from this point. On October 29, 2015, Microsoft Executive Vice President of Windows and Devices, Terry Myerson, provided an update on the release and its successes thus far; highlighted by users showing a strong preference for Windows 10 over its predecessors.
Looking ahead, Myerson identified plans to control the upgrade process, changes to the notifications users will receive, the reservation process and how Microsoft will incorporate Windows 10 into the broader update cycle.
In an effort to make Windows 10 more widely available to users, genuine Windows 7 and 8.1 customers will no longer need to use the two-step reservation process. Originally a reserve, notify, upgrade process; Microsoft is streamlining this by automatically kicking off the upgrade process once the user has made a reservation. Prior to making the changes to the operating system, users will be prompted to choose whether or not they wish to commit these changes and continue. Additionally, roll back capabilities provide users the opportunity to go back to their previous version if they choose within 31 days of the upgrade.
Early in 2016, Microsoft will be re-categorizing Windows 10 as a “Recommended Update.” Initiation of the upgrade will depend on your specific system settings; users who have chosen for Microsoft to download updates automatically will be prompted whether to continue with the upgrade or not. Users who have asked to be notified of any updates will see Windows 10 listed as an option within this list and process.