Windows 10 free upgrade allows clean reinstalls

If people were already happy with the news that the upgrade to Windows 10 will be free for the first year, they'll be even happier now. Microsoft's Gabriel Aul has confirmed via Twitter that you'll be able to do a clean reinstall of Windows 10 on machines that have been upgraded for free—even if you've completely wiped the drive. As a bonus, you won't need your old Windows product key to do it, as the device in question should activate just fine with Windows 10.

Most of us have probably had to reinstall Windows a few times over the years due to accumulated crud, and nuking from orbit is sometimes the only way to fix others' malware-ridden PCs. Given those situations, the confirmation that a clean install of Windows 10 is possible on upgraded PCs is welcome news indeed.

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    • Ninjitsu
    • 4 years ago

    Well, I’ve been pointing this out since they’ve announced this scheme: they’re not talking about how they’ll handle retail licences and their transfer, and it’s worth waiting for a while to see how that pans out.

    More importantly, tech sites (TR included) should press very hard to obtain this information – MS don’t talk easily.

      • bmlauredra
      • 4 years ago

      THIS. It’s like everyone purposefully avoids this major issue. I bought Win 7 Pro retail licenses specifically for the ability to migrate them across my PCs after MB upgrades. This made the retail license valuable for me since I’ve used each through more than 5 PCs since 2009.

      I stayed away from Win 8 specifically because they tried to kill the retail license and replace it with the vaguely defined Sys Builder license. Then I stayed away from Win 8.1 because it had nothing I wanted.

      All this talk about free upgrades to Win 10 “on device” tells me they will convert retail license to OEMs bound to devices, in which case I’ll be holding to my Win 7 Pro licenses until 2020 and start planning to move away from Windows until then.

    • GrimDanfango
    • 4 years ago

    I really don’t trust this whole “Have it for free! Please upgrade for free! For the love of God will you just accept this free upgrade! Seriously, we’ll do absolutely anything, just upgrade!!” thing.

    Microsoft aren’t a company that gives anything away for free, and their massive near-hysterical push to move everyone onto this as soon as humanly possible really makes me question just how large a chunk of my soul I’d be offering up to the devil for the privilege.

    I’m really getting fed up with Google lately, where simply having Gmail logged in is basically a green flag for it to monitor and collate every last thing you do in any open tab in the browser, and the fact that it’s a free service gives them free reign to expand and trample ever greater swathes of privacy… but well, at least it’s contained inside of a web browser window.

    I’m really dreading the thought of a desktop OS that has that kind of privacy-invading scope and power to change and expand silently without being beholden to the rights of troublesome “paying customers”.

    As with all “free” services run by commercially driven companies, if you aren’t the customer, you’re the product.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 4 years ago

      linux

        • GrimDanfango
        • 4 years ago

        I’m waiting for Linux to become maybe a ~50% viable gaming platform. I’m hoping it gets there before Microsoft entirely abandon their last decent OS (Win 7 of course). There seems to be a decent amount of cross-platform uptake lately, and hopefully SteamOS will accelerate that.

          • EndlessWaves
          • 4 years ago

          With huge parts of the gaming community embracing steam? Don’t expect them to object to anything Microsoft do, they are likely to be far more restrained than Valve.

            • wimpishsundew
            • 4 years ago

            There’s been endless promises by GPU makers to developers about making Linux a viable gaming platform. So far it’s mostly empty promises. Let’s just face it. Most people willing to pay for games isn’t using Linux as a primary OS.

            And steam machines isn’t that much of an appeal yet. It needs a lot more refinement. I would say steam machines would be the future but it’s obvious MS’s next XB is going to be pretty much a computer just like steam machines. Then you’re looking at the main difference being Steam OS or Windows OS. People would rather pick Windows since MS will probably have their integration fully working by then.

        • UnfriendlyFire
        • 4 years ago

        Except driver support for Linux is quite lacking (ex: Look at Nividia and AMD graphics drivers for Linux). Along with software support.

        I gave up on Windows 10 beta because Intel graphics driver refused to install on that OS. I like to adjust my laptop display brightness and not have it stuck at max brightness.

          • Deanjo
          • 4 years ago

          Ummm nvidia has excellent Linux drivers.

      • Nictron
      • 4 years ago

      The human mentality to adopt anything free is was enslaves them. Look at what free credit has done to the debt levels of individuals and governments.

      We are just not capable of resisting, there is maybe 5% who can resist the urge!

      I am by no means a saint relating to the above but I am learning my lesson very quickly. Your points are very valid,

      FREE BUT AT WHAT COST?

      • Peter.Parker
      • 4 years ago

      I see your point. But I think you have consider a few aspects. First, you can’t refer to Microsoft as a living organism, it’s a place where people work together. The CEOs are usually deciding how the company is moving along, based on a certain strategy. Sure, ultimately, all CEO are interested in profit, but there are different ways of getting there.
      I am guessing that Satya has changed the traditional Microsoft strategy of asking money first and providing the goods later (it’s not what you think, you dirty minded geeks…), and sometimes never delivering (such a tease). It seems like the Apple and Google have reversed the way things used to work in the software business. And it was about time, if you ask me.
      I suppose you are right that, at some level, we will be the product and not the customer, but are we any different now, when we still have to purchase the OS? Aren’t you still paying for Office? Or any other software that it’s worth having? SO, why not get this freebie if it’s there.
      Plus, I didn’t even start mentioning the pirated version of Windows (from XP to 7) that are making (based on a simple Google search) is somewhere around 50%. These are people that are potential customers, that are completely unreachable the way things are now.
      Oh, and one other thing. After all that ruckus with Windows 8, a product that, however flawed, still is, IMHO, much, much better than its press., considering that the people who didn’t jump in the “8” wagon in the first place might not be able to resist now (windows 7 users), and those who did jump might fell like MSFT owes them an excuse, in the form of a free upgrade to Windows 10.
      To sum it up, I think MSFT is allowed to try this one thing, since their way of doing business seems to not work anymore as well as it did.

      • Grape Flavor
      • 4 years ago

      The only thing “near-hysterical” here is the breathless paranoia frenzy that accompanies every single Windows 10 article. Seriously. JUST LET IT GO.

        • BIF
        • 4 years ago

        I can’t; I’m either allergic to or addicted to… Grape Flavor. I don’t know which it is, but the best kind is the one that gives me a whoosy head and a purple tongue, ever since I was 12. Is it the sugar crash or the dyes used to make that purple color?

        I only wish my local ice cream lady stocked a “Bomb Pop” in Grape Flavor…

      • jihadjoe
      • 4 years ago

      Window 10: Proudly sponsored by the NSA.

    • evilpaul
    • 4 years ago

    So only the Home Edition is going to be free? And they’re saying that Win10 Home will have mandatory Updates installed as soon as they’re available. Does this include Device Drivers? Because I’ve had a few off Windows Update fuck things up for me.

      • JustAnEngineer
      • 4 years ago

      [url<]http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-faq[/url<] [quote="Microsoft's FAQ"<] What edition of Windows will I get as part of this free upgrade? When you upgrade, you’ll stay on like-to-like editions of Windows. For example, Windows 7 Home Premium will upgrade to Windows 10 Home. [/quote<] [u<]Windows 10[/u<] Windows 7 Starter Windows 7 Home Basic Windows 7 Home Premium Windows 8.1 with Bing Windows 8.1 [u<]Windows 10 Pro[/u<] Windows 7 Professional Windows 7 Ultimate Windows 8.1 Pro Windows 8.1 Pro for Students [u<]Windows 10 Mobile[/u<] Windows Phone 8.1

    • tootercomputer
    • 4 years ago

    Some questions here about whether future hardware upgrade problems under this plan. Anyone here at The Tech Report got any connections with MS to clarify this? Not an insignificant issue.

    • HorseIicious
    • 4 years ago

    AKA – “Microsoft reveals shocking new policy for Windows 10 upgrade installations that you’ll never believe.”

    P.S. Are we on the set of Silicon Valley; because it sure seems like someone needs to take away Donald’s … err Jared’s… privileges (or at least SWOT the new headline trend).

    PP.S. All in good humor!

    • Deanjo
    • 4 years ago

    FWIW, I notice that none of my dual boot systems are displaying the Win 10 offer despite them being up to date.

      • sweatshopking
      • 4 years ago

      that’s cause they know you don’t want it.

        • Firestarter
        • 4 years ago

        I’d guess their upgrader is not cut out for it

    • adampk17
    • 4 years ago

    Great news.

    • Deanjo
    • 4 years ago

    [quote<]As a bonus, you won't need your old Windows product key to do it, as the device in question should activate just fine with Windows 10.[/quote<] Until you go and try to upgrade your hardware. Kiss your transferrable license goodbye.

      • Waco
      • 4 years ago

      Bah, yup. Give me a damn key. I don’t mind calling in, but tying keys to hardware is annoying in every way when your hardware *gasp* dies or is obsolete.

        • Deanjo
        • 4 years ago

        Gabriel Aul has avoided answering any questions asked regarding that on his twitter feed. You can guess what the answer is. “Sorry, you’re SOL, $269 please!”

          • Krogoth
          • 4 years ago

          It is more like $99-199, depending on what etailer/version you are getting.

      • Maff
      • 4 years ago

      They have an imho very functional system in place for licences on hardware with their office365 subscriptions.

      Whenever I format my PC, or when I buy a new laptop, I can go to my office365 profile page to deactivate office on one system, and then reactivate it on another.

      I can see them using something similar for windows licences.

      • Crackhead Johny
      • 4 years ago

      I wouldn’t bet on that. If you are already renting your OS by the year what are they going to do, make you rent a different license at the same rate?

      • odizzido
      • 4 years ago

      I noticed that as well…

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 4 years ago

      So, any hardware changes that would trigger an activation will require purchasing a new license? Suck.

      * I can do this just by updating motherboard drivers, btw.

      • morphine
      • 4 years ago

      How the upgrade thing truly works is still up for grabs.

      Still, we’re going to get Windows 10 for $0 / 0€. I don’t think we have the right to complain.

        • CheetoPet
        • 4 years ago

        Either

        A year down the road they decide you owe them for the privilege to continue using their OS.

        or

        They’ll pull an Apple & start giving it away for free.

        I’m really curious with their new service focus and comments that Windows 10 is the last version of windows how they will monetize their OS in the future.

          • sweatshopking
          • 4 years ago

          except they’re on the record literally 10 times saying they won’t decide you owe them for the privilege to continue using their os.

            • Crackhead Johny
            • 4 years ago

            Most interesting.
            Talking to a MS person (not a PR drone), that is not what they are saying.
            What the MS guy at the security conference told me was that Windows 10 is the last Windows OS, there would be no more. For the rest of time it will just be updates to 10, that come down automatically.
            He also said that paying yearly for Office works fine for consumers, so they will be fine paying for their OS on a yearly basis.

            So when it comes to “It is totally free and MS is giving it away to all of us Woohoo!” or “They will be providing OS as service” I know which I believe more of a publicly traded company.

            Paying by the year is less scummy than forcing the purchase of a new OS every time you update drivers, install a new drive, add RAM, show up wearing a T shirt that your PC Kinect module doesn’t recognize, or put a new picture beside your PC.

            Still if it goes yearly OS I have to ask what I use my PC where MS is required and Steam OS will not work.

            • sweatshopking
            • 4 years ago

            It’s not news that windows 10 is the last version. they’re on record like 100 times saying that too. from now on it’ll be a rolling os. it’ll be supported for the length of the device, so basically an OEM license. You need a new computer you get a new license, which will continue to be sold at retail prices. How do you expect the billions to pay for an operating system when literally most people on the planet don’t have credit cards? that isn’t the plan.
            There will be ties ins for all the microsoft services instead. One drive, office 365, microsoft store, etc. will all be pushed as the revenue centres while the actual licensing will be reduced. THERE WILL STILL BE COSTS FOR WINDOWS 10, and retail pricing has already leaked (and it’s consistent with the past)

            THE ENTIRE REASON FOR GETTING WINDOWS 10 INSTALLED FOR FREE ON AS MANY PC’S AS POSSIBLE IS TO REACH THEIR 1 BILLION TARGET SO DEVELOPERS WILL STOP IGNORING THE ECOSYSTEM. THAT’S IT. Full stop. THEY NEED APPS. NOBODY IS MAKING APPS FOR THEM, AND IT’S MURDERING THEIR ECOSYSTEM. THE OS IS A SERVICE, IT’S A SERVICE THAT PROVIDES ACCESS TO ALL THE OTHER WAYS MICROSOFT WILL MAKE MONEY IN THE FUTURE.

            I’M NOT SURE WHY THIS IS CONFUSING.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 4 years ago

            Maybe, but MS is the last company I’d turn to for using “apps”. I’d rather have a PC OS that runs programs. PC developers don’t like the concept of paying MS royalties to sell apps either, as we saw from the whole SteamOS thing, so I’d say MS needs to respect their established ecosystem, or face the consequences of a complete revolt, which will now be both users and developers, if w10 requires payment for every activation. PC buiders =! OEM. They upgrade all the time, and driver updates can also trigger activation prompts. No other app ecosystem charges for the OS, so if MS does w10 will be all kinds of fail.

            Stuff like this is where people will seriously start looking @ alternative OS’s like linux or SteamOS.
            Why? Because: [url<]http://www.linuxgenuineadvantage.org/[/url<] "Upgrading" from a retail version of windows to an OEM version of w10 is not an upgrade, it's a scam.

            • sweatshopking
            • 4 years ago

            I don’t generally use the metro store myself, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft doesn’t NEED people to. they’re not going to survive unless they update their business model.
            you’re right, nobody else charges for an OS, so if you refuse to use the store, exactly how is Microsoft supposed to pay the thousands of software engineers building windows?

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 4 years ago

            Oh, I dunno, by keeping their old business model around and letting people buy retail PC editions of windows that aren’t primarily designed to run like a phone.

            Hell, do both. Make a pay version that doesn’t include metro at all, and give away the hybrid version. Either way, they shouldn’t charge people for multiple activations, as that is just wrong.

            Even a SAAS subscription model wouldn’t do that, but neither SAAS, or per activation charges will be cool with the public. Asking for continued payments from an OS is probably where the general public is just going to say nope, and ditch MS altogether, not to mention all the potential lawsuits. Oh, well. Guess MS still needs to be taught what they’ve been continuing to do wrong since w8, even though it’s fairly obvious that people only want an update to w7.

            • sweatshopking
            • 4 years ago

            All accounts so far suggest this is the case, and they’ll continue to offer retail copies. You’re right nobody will pay annually for an OS. That includes me.

            I know you hate metro, but they’re going to include it. That isn’t going to change.

            • BIF
            • 4 years ago

            [quote<]"Stuff like this is where people will seriously start looking @ alternative OS's like linux or SteamOS." [/quote<] No, not really. Yeah, I know what you're saying, and it's true that "people" have been seriously been saying this for YEARS. Wasn't gonna happen then and ain't gonna happen now. I'm not mocking you. I'm being straight here. I still run x86 and x86(64) programs written by vendors in C, C++, and other traditional languages. There are a lot of us out there and this isn't going to go away anytime soon. Not when my PC (even my laptop!) can keep a library of 1 TB to "the sky" of audio samples and gigabytes upon gigabytes of meshes, textures, and other 3D assets all on local storage. This stuff isn't commonly available to run on Linux. Besides, the biggest number of machines using Linux is probably servers followed by routers, phones, tablets, security systems, and finally by TVs, DVRs, cameras, exercise equipment, and refrigerators, simply because these are excellent use-cases for that OS. Linux is still difficult to deal with for most consumers who need to install it and use it on a personal computer, and not much mainstream software really runs on it, so basically it's Windows or Mac and quite frankly, Mac (not even the Mac Pro or the MacBook Pro) does not make it easy to support large libraries internally or to be flexible when it comes to memory, GPU, or hard drive upgrades, so for me it's PC Windows. I would buy a Mac if Apple would make a big 17" laptop with user-installable SSD space! Windows users aren't going anywhere. So I get Windows 10 for free and I might have to buy another one in a few years. That's the best deal I've had ever from Microsoft, so I'll take it. I will say however, I don't want to have to subscribe to my OS and (for now) I am able to avoid the Office "protection racket". We'll see what the prices are; hopefully they're not $60 per month, which is why I avoid all Adobe software no matter how good somebody says it is...

        • Deanjo
        • 4 years ago

        We do if invalidates our license key for the older versions.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 4 years ago

        Actually, we do if something triggers an activation, and MS holds your system hostage for $300. That’s going to piss off a lot of people. It’s also very likely that victims of this will resort to piracy instead of paying the ransom.

        Frankly, I’d prefer the previous win8 path. Pay around $50, and get unlimited activations. PC builders aren’t the casual walmart special. They upgrade components and drivers all the time, and that can reset the windows activation. If this is a problem, not cool, and I’d stick with w7 until I can get a respectable w10 edition.

          • kvndoom
          • 4 years ago

          If they pulled that, I won’t resort to piracy.

          I’ll resort to Windows 7.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 4 years ago

            Not if MS invalidates your 7 key. So you either don’t upgrade, or get screwed. Plus, there is no official way to downgrade a windows install.

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 4 years ago

      Um, this is hardly new if – like most people – you have an OEM version of the OS. Did you buy a retail version?

        • Deanjo
        • 4 years ago

        Win 8.1 OEM versions aka system builder version which allowed you to transfer it as many times as you wanted. Win 7 Pro retail. I should be allowed to transfer it as many times has my heart contends with both versions.

          • sweatshopking
          • 4 years ago

          NO IT DIDN’T. LEARN TO LICENSE, BRAH:
          [quote<] My customer bought a new PC and wants to move the OEM software from the old PC to the new one. Can't users do whatever they want with their software? A. No, the OEM software is licensed with the computer system on which it was originally installed and is tied to that original machine. OEM licenses are single-use licenses that cannot be installed on more than one computer system, even if the original machine is no longer in use. The Microsoft Software License Terms, which the end user must accept before using the software, state that the license may not be shared, transferred to, or used concurrently on different computers. System builders must provide end-user support for the Windows license on computers they build, but cannot support licenses on computers they didn’t build. This is a fundamental reason why an OEM System Builder License can't be transferred. [/quote<] [url<]http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/licensing/sblicensing/pages/licensing_faq.aspx#faq3[/url<]

            • Deanjo
            • 4 years ago

            When you purchased the $15 dollar upgrade for Win 8 (from a previous version OEM or not) your license becomes a retail license. Same applies with in place upgrades.

            • sweatshopking
            • 4 years ago

            That was unusual. OEM licenses dont generally transfer.

            • BIF
            • 4 years ago

            The “System Builder” license DOES transfer.

    • evilpaul
    • 4 years ago

    So just make a DVD or USB stick and you can load up Windows 10 on any PC?

    edit: Oh, it’s tied to that particular “Device.” So I’ll have to call in to that automated line when I upgrade my CPU/Mobo/RAM to activate. Well, I can’t really complain for the price.

      • curtisb
      • 4 years ago

      [quote<]upgrade my CPU/Mobo/RAM to activate[/quote<] While I don't know how things will work with the Windows 10 offer (no one does at this point), that is technically a new computer under the current Windows 7/8.1 (and every prior version) EULA for OEM licenses. That means, again technically speaking, it should require the purchase of a new license. I'm not saying I agree with it...that's just the way it is.

        • johnrreagan
        • 4 years ago

        That’s not my understanding. For Win7, it is tied to the MB. You can upgrade the RAM, graphics cards, CPU to new speed, etc under the same OEM license (which is my situation). For Win 8, they changed that. I read something on a MS blog entry for the change (although Win8 doesn’t have OEM licenses that you can buy right?)

        The “Get W10 App” seems to be happy with upgrading my Win7 OEM to Win10.

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