Operating Systems

How to get free help from Microsoft on Windows 10 and more

With the launch of the new version of Windows, Microsoft offers a variety of support options, both online and in-store ... some of which are free.

Need assistance with Windows 10? Microsoft can help. screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Having trouble with Windows 10 or other Microsoft products? Microsoft can help.

Updated since the launch of Windows 10, the Microsoft Answer Desk page describes all of the support options available to you as a Microsoft customer. You can chat with someone online, pick up the phone and call or visit your local Microsoft store for help. Some of the support options will cost you money, but some are free, especially those concerning Windows 10.

Microsoft is offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for the first year. To snag the free upgrade, you can reserve your copy through the "Get Windows 10" icon that appears in the Windows taskbar in the lower right corner, and then wait for it to show up. Alternatively, you can manually upgrade to Windows 10 using Microsoft's free media creation tool.

But what if you're a little skittish about upgrading to Windows 10 on your own? Maybe you're concerned about losing your existing files or settings? Or perhaps you're just worried that something may go wrong. Never fear. Microsoft is here. As part of Microsoft's support options, you can take your PC or tablet into a Windows store, and a store employee will help you upgrade to Windows 10. As the Answer Desk page explains:

Visit a Microsoft store near you for FREE upgrade services. Come into our store with your device and we'll help you get to Windows 10. Our Answer Desk will evaluate your device, make sure you have everything you need for an amazing experience, and take you through all of the new features of Windows 10.

So what other services does Microsoft offer for free? You can chat with someone or call the company's support line. Microsoft can help you with questions concerning accounts and billing, services and apps, and devices such as mobile phones and the Xbox. Just click on the specific category and then a subcategory and you can open up a chat or schedule a call.

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But the company also offers free in-store support. Whether you purchased your computer from Microsoft or another retailer, the Answer Desk folks at your local Microsoft store can assist you for free with the following issues: 1) extended diagnostics on any device; 2) software repair or support; 3) virus and malware removal; 4) PC tune-ups for increased performance; and 5) Recycle for Rewards appraisal, which offers you a Microsoft Store gift card for trading in certain products.

And what if you need more extensive help? That's where you'll have to cough up some money. Certain in-store services as hardware upgrades and data backups will cost you $49 a shot, while recovering deleted files or formatted drives will cost you $149.

Microsoft also offers paid plans that are more comprehensive or allow you to stay at home to get help. A one-hour, one-time support session via chat or phone call will cost you $99. Extended protection and accidental coverage for your laptop along with unlimited software support will cost you $129. And a full year of unlimited personal one-on-one in-store training sessions and software support via online chat, phone or in-store help will cost you $149.

Whether you have questions about Microsoft products, want help with Windows 10 or need more extensive support, you can peruse Microsoft's online Answer Desk page to review all your available options.