Questions Microsoft needs to answer before the Windows 10 launch

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 14, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft Windows 10 will be released in two week's time to Windows Insiders and users who have accepted the free upgrade promotion that Microsoft ran on Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices.

While Microsoft revealed a lot about the upcoming operating system, the company has been tight-lipped about some important aspects of it.

In addition to that, a few PR and announcement blunders along the way caused extra confusion that Microsoft has not yet addressed fully either.

This article looks at questions (inspired by this article on Forbes) that every user interested in Windows 10 should be interested in before taking the plunge to run an upgrade of an existing system, set up the operating system on a new PC, or buy a device running the new operating system.

What does Free really mean?

Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be free under certain circumstances. The company rewrote the announcement several times and communication on other channels did add to the confusion that users have with it.

If you read comments and ask users right now, you get different answers when it comes to free. Some users believe it is free for life, others for the lifetime of the device while others expect Microsoft to introduce a subscription-based services along the way.

What we know is that Windows 10 is free for the lifetime of the device. There are two issues though with the statement that Microsoft has not addressed yet.

First, Microsoft did not define device in the context. Windows may under certain circumstances identify a device as new after hardware upgrades. It is not clear if Windows 10 can be re-activated again on an upgraded device or if customers would need to purchase a license in this case.

Major upgrades are the second issue. Are those, something like the upgrade from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1 free as well or do they require a license?

According to Computerworld, Microsoft may provide free updates to Windows 10 only for 2-4 years. The different support periods are determined by "customer type" according to Microsoft which according to Computerworld means that Home customers are on the lower end of the support scale while business (Pro) customers on the higher end.

estimated device life

If you read the statement carefully, you may come to another conclusion. Microsoft simply estimated the average device lifetime for devices running Home and Pro versions of Windows 10 and came up with the 2-4 years range for those.

If the conclusion is true, customers would be able to use Windows 10 on the device for the lifetime of it.

How long will Microsoft support Windows 10?

windows support

Update: Microsoft has published information on the lifecycle website. According to it, Windows 10's mainstream support ends October 13, 2020 and its extended support on October 14, 2025.

Information about how long Windows 10 will be supported with feature upgrades and security patches have not been revealed by the Redmond company.

If you take past support cycles into consideration, Window 10 mainstream support would end in 2021 and extended support in 2026.

But Microsoft mentioned already that Windows 10 would be a new chapter, that it would deliver Windows as a service, and that it would release "new features when they're ready" to systems and not via major releases like it did in the past.

Fact is, Microsoft has not revealed information about how long it will support Windows 10.

Forced Update questions

Microsoft announced previously that some Windows editions would ship with mandatory updates but failed to reveal additional information about the process.

Current Windows versions allow users to configure the operating system's update behavior. Users who don't want automatic updates can disable those to test and deploy updates manually.

There are valid reasons why users would want to block updates from being installed automatically. The past has shown for instance that updates have rendered systems unbootable or caused other issues that users and system administrators avoided by blocking them from being installed.

It seems right now that Windows 10 Home users won't have the option anymore to delay or block updates from being deployed on their devices.

Pro users on the other hand get time-limited options -- eight months it seems -- before updates can no longer be blocked.

Questions that Microsoft has not addressed include:

  1. What happens when updates are blocked using other ways (e.g. through hosts file or other blocking options)?
  2. Can Microsoft be held responsible if forced updates render systems unusable?
  3. Can updates be removed from systems with forced updates?

Now You: Do you have questions about Windows 10 that have not been answered yet by Microsoft?

Questions Microsoft needs to answer before the Windows 10 launch
Article Name
Questions Microsoft needs to answer before the Windows 10 launch
Microsoft has yet to answer important questions about its operating system Windows 10 that users should know before installing or upgrading the OS.
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  1. mikmock said on July 18, 2015 at 4:58 am

    Media Center was not what I was asking about & I do not use it, I was concerned about VHD, UNIX support & some extra networking features but I am bad…I should have read a few more of ghacks Martin’s articles cuz he addressed my question perfectly. He actually has the best win 10 information I have found anywhere.
    Thanks ghacks Martin

  2. Mikmock said on July 18, 2015 at 2:11 am

    Which Windows 10 will I get? I purchased the “Windows 7 Ultimate” version for all my pc’s & laptops I own to get the additional features they include over the “Home” & “Home Premium” versions. At this point it seems like MS would still consider me a “Home User”.

    So if I upgrade to W10 will I receive a “Home” version or will I receive a “Pro” version because I have a Win7 Ultimate version? From the articles I have read so far I don’t know if those features are relavent or not but I would bet if I got a “Home” version without them it would be difficult to request a Pro version

    1. A different Martin said on July 18, 2015 at 4:12 am

      Do you use Windows Media Center? From what I’ve read, I’m pretty sure that’s going to be eliminated regardless of which version of Windows 10 they “upgrade” you to.

  3. chesscanoe said on July 17, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    Life of Windows, to include Windows 10 is now explained at .

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 17, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Thanks for the tip, I have updated the article to reflect the new information.

  4. Walter Rountree said on July 15, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    Windows 10 is a “gift horse”. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. My dad used to say “There is no such thing as somethin’ for nothin'”. Milton Friedman said “There is no such thing as a free lunch”. Where is the catch? I feel it is Microsoft’s desire to track us. That means that they will know our secrets. That means the NSA, Hillary Clinton and the Chinese Communists will know them, too. None of their business! Maybe they want our money, also. What happened to Microsoft Wallet? Was Bill Gates’ pocket picked? I do not trust them.

  5. kalmly said on July 15, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    Microsoft as a service. That is what MS started out saying about Windows 10. That is where I think it is going. Enforced updates. Enforced changes. Enforced everything. Subscription fees in the offing.

    Above Grez said: “That’s actually less than I’ve even spent on Office before, which is important to me because I have a home network with about 10 devices attached to it. I can cover all of them for that $50.”

    I see how that works for Grez, BUT I have three computers, not networked (there is a reason for that), and I am the only one who ever touches them. Also, my income is limited. $50 here, $50 there and soon I won’t be able to keep up. MS Office (a pre-2007 version) is installed on my XP machine because I need Access. It cost me $500 and the license allows it to be installed on only one computer. More expensive than your $50/year, but I hate what they did to Office with the ribbon and those irritating sidebars. If this were a subscription, I’d be stuck with all the things I dislike about it. There are decent alternatives to MS Office — no I’m not talking about bloated and clunky Open Office or Libre Office — and two are installed on my newer machines.

    With Windows 10, whatever MS decides to do with the OS, I’d be stuck with because Microsoft will be in control, not me. No thank you.

    So. Linux. Mac. I don’t know, and I hate the idea of moving away from what I’ve loved for so many years, but no Windows 10.

    P.S. I see that Windows Anytime Upgrade is now installed on my system. I’m afraid to click the icon to see what it says because I’m afraid it will start downloading.

  6. freakassoid said on July 15, 2015 at 6:45 am

    i think people should know about this

    upgrade to Win 10 but Too Many Recovery Partitions from Win 8.1

    if you upgrade to Win 10 from a OEM Win 8 Computer be aware

    if you have a OEM Windows 8 computer (Hewlett-Packard,Acer,Toshiba ect.) and installed Windows 8.1
    it adds a extra 350mb recovery partition

    now if you had to restore back to Windows 8 from the OEM recovery Partition the extra 350mb recovery
    gets left on the hard drive

    now from a fresh install back to Windows 8 from the OEM recovery partition you upgrade to Windows 8.1 it adds another 350mb recovery partition so now there is 2 350mb recovery partition and if you keep going back to Windows 8 from the OEM recovery partition and upgrade to Windows 8.1 it adds another

    Windows defrag see’s these 350mb recovery partition as Local Disk (\\?\VOLUME and can not defrag them

    this persion had 13 350mb recovery partitions



  7. intelligencia said on July 15, 2015 at 6:30 am

    My Windows (7 Home Premium) laptop had some Devastating malware on it that caused it to Crash into Forever!

    Fortunately, I had a Linux Mint 17 installation disk lying around (just in case) and am using it to Full Effect!
    I have not looked back at Windows Microsoft since then.
    Y’all better get into Linux before it’s all too late.

    Linux . . . NO More Worries!
    (I should trademark this)


    1. A different Martin said on July 15, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      I installed Oracle VM VirtualBox (plus extensions)* on my Windows 7 ThinkPad laptop around a week ago and installed three Linux distros to play with: Linux Mint 17.2 “Rafaela” with the Cinnamon desktop, the latest stable OpenSUSE with the KDE desktop, and the latest stable PCLinuxOS FullMonty with the KDE desktop. So far, the only real difficulties I’ve had with them — getting TrackPoint and touchpad scrolling working and accessing shared Windows folders — stem from the fact that they are running in VirtualBox. I’m still ironing out some VirtualBox kinks in the OpenSUSE and PCLinuxOS distros, but I’m almost at the point where I can start actually learning about Linux proper and evaluate which distro I might want to migrate to. (And there’s nothing stopping me from trying out other promising distros, as well; I have the drive space.) Ultimately, I’ll probably — eventually — install at least one distro to its own hard drive and swap that drive in.

      I do have a couple of concerns about permanently abandoning Windows as a host OS, however: (1) Lenovo’s battery management utility for Windows is superb at maximizing battery life (hours of capacity over years), and by most accounts, Linux battery management utilities are not. (2) I don’t know whether I will be able to manage my iPod and update my Garmin GPS from a Windows virtual machine hosted on Linux.

      As for migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10, unless it transpires that Windows 10 has some mind-blowing improvement or feature I can’t live without — and I haven’t seen one yet — I’m not giving up my retail Windows 7 Ultimate license, which I can transfer to any machine and which will (theoretically) continue to receive security updates until January 2020.

      But I’ve gone off on a tangent. I do have a question Microsoft needs to answer: How does Windows 10 address focus-stealing? Will the user be able to control it? Prevent it entirely? Configure an audible alert? Configure a delay before the stealing window can receive input? There are few things more infuriating than working away in one document or application, and having an unrelated dialog box or window suddenly pop up to intercept a keystroke or click (and then sometimes disappear to execute who-knows-what-command you inadvertently just OKed). In Windows XP, users could control focus-stealing via the TweakUI power toy. Everything since has been a regression.

      *VirtualBox is free and open-source; the extensions are free for personal use. VirtualBox supposedly offers more features for free than VMWare Player; VMWare Player supposedly works more better out of the box. Case in point: when I opened my Windows tp4table.dat file to add an entry enabling TrackPoint and touchpad scrolling support for VirtualBox, I saw that the file already contained entries for three VMWare products, including its free VMWare Player, even though I haven’t installed any VMWare software yet. Well played, VMWare.

      1. intelligencia said on July 16, 2015 at 9:48 am

        @ A different Martin

        I love your comment!

        I have the same concerns about abandoning Windows all together for the reasons you mentioned and I am also thinking of exploring OpenSUSE which seems VERY interesting (I tried Downloading the OpenSUSE iso but my dsl comnnection is rather slow so it eventually quit trying to download the massive 4.4 Gigabyte OpenSUSE file!).
        I am waiting for VERIZON FiOS (Super Internet speed) to arrive at my home so that I can download said file much much quicker – – or I just might purchase the OpenSUSE disk Online)

        Thanks for reading,


  8. DonGateley said on July 14, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I wonder if they’ve made it any easier to migrate what stands outside the OS and makes it useful like apps and app data, etc. (the stuff users really care about) from one system to another and have it come up with everything just working.

  9. Gonzo said on July 14, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    This is how I’m interpreting the “upgrade” side of things so far:

    – If you upgrade from Win 7/8 to Win 10, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee or buy a new device in 2 years when upgrading from a Home Edition or 4 years from a Pro Edition.
    – If you don’t upgrade, you’ll need a new OS or device in ~4 years (Win 7 all editions) or ~7 years (Win 8 all editions).
    – After the release of Win 10, if you don’t “upgrade” MS may continue using Automatic Updates to harass, deceive or even break things. (I expect the EU to get involved if needed)

    Why not just be honest and say Windows is now ‘Software As A Service’ and here are the terms? Why all the deception? Was it just for a short term spike in stock price? Just because legal says “we’re ok” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. The backlash will be significant and maybe long lasting…. sudo apt-get install mononono.

    1. Bobby Phoenix said on July 15, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      “If you upgrade from Win 7/8 to Win 10, you’ll need to pay a subscription fee or buy a new device in 2 years when upgrading from a Home Edition or 4 years from a Pro Edition.”

      This is the really confusing part I think. From what Microsoft said with the 2-4 years device lifetime, it seems to me they mean if you buy a device today you get free “upgrades” (not “updates”) for 2-4 years depending on what version of 10 you get. 2 for Home, and 4 for Pro. Makes sense. Take Home for example. In 2 years you will need to pay for 10.1. OK fine. If not I’ll stay on 10, and be patched for free. Sort of how 8 and 8.1 is today (although 8.1 was free).

      Now on the flip side what gets me is if Microsoft is basing the time frame on this I get it. But if they are including “updates” (as in security patches, and program fixes), it doesn’t make sense. I received the “Reserve your copy of 10” on my six year old laptop. I’ll be upgrading 7 to 10. Now when I do is my device already dead? When the very first patches/updates come out will I have to pay right off the bat since my device is over 4 years old already? It better not. If not that’s a lot of keeping track for Microsoft if they plan to track all Home and Pro users for a 2 to 4 year span since you know there are millions of PCs out there upgrading to 10 that are already over 4 years old. So how does it really work? Please Microsoft tell us!!

  10. ferrette said on July 14, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Microsoft is responsible for the confusion that exist and the negativity that arose from it. When Windows 7 and 8.1 users cannot get clear and unambiguous answers you can’t really blame them for balking at this upgrade to Windows 10? It’s so pathetic of Microsoft.

  11. Nebulus said on July 14, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    I really don’t care about Win10 anymore…

  12. Oxa said on July 14, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Where do you get the information that pro users will get only eight months before updates can no longer be blocked?

    1. firefoxlover said on July 14, 2015 at 7:55 pm
    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      The Forbes article mentioned that number.

  13. JohnMWhite said on July 14, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the ‘catch’ to reach out and grab them. I certainly understand their concern in today’s technology environment, but at the same time I find it very peculiar to imagine that Microsoft have some dastardly ploy up their sleeve and Windows 10 is the cheese. I don’t trust Microsoft but surely they must be able to envision what a monumental catastrophe it would be for their public image to just go “psyche, give us money now!” The longer they go without explaining the plan for this business model, the more people start to suspect that it is some kind of trick, though personally I just suspect that they have no idea what their plan is yet.

    Either way, they’d be smart to get their act together before the 29th. You can’t release an operating system without the basic question of how updates work being answered.

  14. George Melendez said on July 14, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    There are so many questions, doubts and related software issues with Wins 10 that I, as most of us, are really confused. There’s just to much info from so many providers that it’s difficult to keep up and figuring out what’s correct and what isn’t… I am certain that Microsoft will provide us with “what the real deal is with Wins 10” before the upgrade arrives. I also wonder how will Microsoft make a profit from Wins 10 if it’s FREE? Good question don’t you think?

  15. Bill said on July 14, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Will the free upgrade only be available to those devices that have the “upgrade notification” showing? Several of my “Genuine” Windows 7 Ultimate and Pro PC’s are not showing the upgrade notification but they have been updated via Windows Update with all the mandatory and optional updates? Is there a way to manually get the upgrade and is there a way to run a program that tests if the PC qualifies for the free upgrade?

  16. Grez said on July 14, 2015 at 6:03 pm


    Agreed, Microsoft needs to recoup the money, but I wouldn’t expect that W10 will become a major burden for consumers. Businesses probably need to be more concerned, but they’re already investing heavily in the OS via contracts, and so that probably won’t change.

    If you look at what Microsoft has been charging for Windows over the past few years, the price has remained pretty flat for consumers even as inflation has taken other costs up. They probably haven’t gotten the kudos that they deserve for that. Also, if you look at the cost of MS Office for consumers, they’ve released multiple options that have actually driven the cost _down_ in many cases. I think they’ve figured that having more legit copies running because more people can afford them is better than trying to run down a bunch of pirated versions. Additionally, Office 365, although it’s a subscription model, is really reasonable…about $50 per year for a Home version (that has everything a normal person uses) and that covers up to five PCs AND five tablets (including Android and iOS). That’s honestly crazy cheap. You pay your $50 per year and never worry about upgrades. That’s actually less than I’ve even spent on Office before, which is important to me because I have a home network with about 10 devices attached to it. I can cover all of them for that $50.

    I guess I point this out because I expect if Microsoft moves to a subscription model for Windows that we’ll see something reasonable there as well. Certainly, Microsoft needs to turn a profit on a flagship product like Windows, but I think that they’ve discovered that there are ways to do this that keep their customers happy. Everyone can win here. If history proves consistent, the licensing may be a bit wonky on day one if/when they decide to go that route, but they also have a pretty good track record now of listening to and responding to their consumers (e.g., the Windows 8.1 release). They’ll take the feedback and tweak the licensing as necessary to protect their profit and keep people happy. They’ve been on a real upswing the past couple of years in terms of quality products (hardware [esp. Surface Pro 3] and software) and keeping customer satisfaction high overall…I want to believe that they want to keep this up. Thankfully, this is the Microsoft of 2015 and not 1995. :)

    Just some food for thought.

  17. not_black said on July 14, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    I think the question Microsoft should answer is: ARE THEY SERIOUS? Look at this inconsistent garbage:

    1. fokka said on July 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      good find. it’s things like this that should really be sorted out in a “usability and design-centric” os in 2015.

  18. ilev said on July 14, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Microsoft has suspended Windows 10 downloads :

    We’re suspending the availability of Windows 10 builds briefly while we prepare for that, and the next build that we flight to you will be delivered using the production channels. Starting tomorrow, we will also not be delivering any additional ISOs at this point ….

  19. Maelish said on July 14, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    You’ve brought up a number of issues here that have bothered me. I hope they will have some real answers to these in the next two weeks.

    Aside from a fear it might break Phone Tray Pro (my call blocker). It’s the biggest problem that I have with the upgrade to v10. With more companies changing licensing terms to yearly, it’s a real fear that Microsoft might screw us over. They didn’t develop v10 for free, they need to recoup their money somehow.

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