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article imageMicrosoft's free Windows 10 upgrade offer expires today

By James Walker     Jul 29, 2016 in Technology
Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade offer expires in just a few more hours, giving you until the end of the day to install the new operating system without paying $100. The company has shared some new statistics on usage of Windows 10.
Over 350 million people are currently using Windows 10 across PCs, laptops, tablets, mobiles and the Xbox One. The majority of these users will have taken advantage of the free upgrade offer from Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs to get the new OS for free. That offer comes to an end today, one year since the operating system launched.
If you want to upgrade a Windows 7 or 8.1 PC or tablet, you'd be well advised to do so today. From tomorrow on, you'll have to pay for a new license, retailing at $100 for Home or $200 for Pro, to install Windows 10. Windows 10 Mobile will remain free for all supported smartphones. Windows 10 editions for other devices will also retain their current pricing structure.
To celebrate the growth of Windows 10 over the past year, Microsoft has been tweeting some usage statistics from the Windows Twitter account. Highlighting some of the key features of the platform, the tweets are worded to convince new users to upgrade, days from when the offer expires.
Microsoft revealed users have browsed the internet for 63 billion minutes using the Edge browser, almost 120,000 years. Cortana has answered over 6 billion questions from Windows 10 users, helping people check the weather, track a package or identify a song. Gamers have spent 19 billion hours with their controller, over two million years' worth of collective gaming.
When the free upgrade offer ends tonight, Microsoft will find it more difficult to continue to grow Windows 10. From here onwards, it will be largely reliant on new device purchases and enterprise upgrades to push the operating system to new users. Because of this, it has become increasingly aggressive in promoting Windows 10 to people who have decided to stay on older versions.
The final incarnation of the Get Windows 10 upgrade assistant is currently pressuring Windows 7 and 8.1 users to upgrade even more intensively than ever. The app is now a full screen window accompanied by a taskbar icon and countdown clock showing how many days until the offer ends. Relief for these users will come over the next few weeks as Microsoft removes the app from PCs, months after outstaying its welcome for most people.
This week, new lawsuits were initiated against Microsoft for its tactics in promoting Windows 10 to existing customers. They have been likened to the methods of malware creators and scammers, employing crude tricks to convince people to start the upgrade.
The next stage in Windows 10's life will come on August 2 with the launch of the Anniversary Update. It will roll out in waves to all supported devices, bringing new features and a refined interface.
Microsoft has shuffled the taskbar icons around, redesigned the Action Center notification panel and expanded Cortana with a set of new capabilities. The assistant can now link to your Windows or Android phone to notify you when its battery is running low or send a text from your PC.
To upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or 8.1 today, you'll need to open the Get Windows 10 app from the notification tray and follow the prompts to start the upgrade. It will download in the background and then automatically install and reboot into Windows 10.
Once you're at the desktop and Windows has activated itself, your free license for life is validated on your computer. You can choose to roll back to your previous Windows version at any time within the first 30 days of completing the upgrade by going to Recovery in the Settings app.
With just hours of free upgrades left, Microsoft will soon get to see how effective the free upgrade offer has really been. Giving Windows away for free is a first for Microsoft, representing a new revenue model for the company based around the cloud and its "software as a service" approach.
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