Last Day for Free Windows 10 Upgrade, $119 Thereafter

July 29 not only marks Windows 10's first anniversary, it's the last chance for users to score a free upgrade.

Microsoft Windows 10

On July 29, 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10 to the public as a free upgrade for eligible systems running Windows 7 and 8.1. Now, a year later, the Redmond, Wash., software giant is pulling the plug on the promotion.

Today is the last day for users to click on the Windows 10 upgrade icon that has inhabited the task bars of Windows users for nearly a year and download the update at no cost. That icon, which resembles the Windows logo, would splash reminders on users' desktops, urging them to upgrade. Recently, it displayed a countdown clock, indicating that time was running out.

Not everyone was thrilled by Microsoft's tactics.

Viewed by some as an aggressive move by Microsoft to switch users over to the new operating system, the company's approach came under fire. Some PC owners, finding that their Windows systems had been forcibly upgraded, even filed suit against the company. Teri Goldstein was recently awarded $10,000 after Microsoft settled a lawsuit filed by travel agent from Sausalito, Calif., after an unauthorized Windows 10 upgrade rendered the PC she used to run her business inoperable.

Despite these stumbling blocks, Windows 10 has been generally well-received by technology experts and the general public alike.

Reviewers praised an updated user interface that respected the system's software keyboard-and-mouse legacy while also accommodating tablets, two-in-one and other touch-enabled Windows devices. Experts also hailed Microsoft's decision to bring back the Start menu, addressing one of the most divisive design choices the company made in developing Windows 8.

PC buyers and consumers have also jumped aboard. According to Microsoft, 350 million devices are running the operating system nearly a year after its release, a feat CEO Satya Nadella described as "the fastest adoption rate of any prior Windows release" during a July 19 earnings conference call. The vast majority of Microsoft's enterprise customers (96 percent) are piloting the operating system, he added.

Of course, folks who miss out on the free upgrade offer will have to pay up.

"After July 29, you'll be able to continue to get Windows 10 on a new device, or purchase a full version of Windows 10 Home for $119," announced Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Windows and Devices group, in a May 5 blog post. Stepping up to Windows 10 Pro, with virtual machine, remote log-in support and other business-oriented features, costs $199.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the highly anticipated release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update, which is just days away.

Due to arrive on Tuesday, Aug. 2, the update includes built-in support for the Bash Unix shell, an enhanced developer mode, Docker-compatible Hyper-V containers and other features intended to help make coders, IT pros and power users more productive while using the operating system. Consumers can look forward to a more capable Cortana digital assistant, improved digital inking and the Xbox Play Anywhere program with cross-play functionality (Xbox One and PC).

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...