How to reserve your free copy of Windows 10

A notification prompts Windows 7 and 8.1 users to reserve an upgrade to the new OS.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

You can now reserve your free copy of Windows 10, if you meet the necessary requirements. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 via a notice suggesting you reserve a copy.

In January, the software giant announced that Windows 10 would be a free upgrade to your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 tablet or PC. Now you can reserve that free upgrade.

Microsoft has a lot riding on Windows 10. The new OS has the task of erasing the bad experiences people had with the touchscreen-focused Windows 8, which ultimately failed to catch fire among PC users. Windows 10 comes packed with new features, such as a redesigned Start menu, the Cortana voice assistant and a new browser called Edge, all designed to win over jaded Windows users. The new OS will also offer a more unified experience among PCs, tablets and smartphones as a way to convince consumers to go the Windows route for all their devices. The company wants to make sure that current device owners know they can now get in line to pick up Windows 10.

Watch this: Why Microsoft needs Windows 10 to be a hit

So how can you now reserve your free copy of Windows 10?

  • First, you must be running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1, and you must have installed a March Windows update dubbed KB3035583, according to blog site VentureBeat. That update will already be on your PC as long as you have Automated Updates enabled.
  • Peek at your Windows system tray in the lower right corner, and you should see a new icon displaying the Windows logo. Hover over it, and the popup messages says: "Get Windows 10."
  • Click that icon, and up pops a window that explains how the free upgrade works. Once it's available, Windows 10 will automatically download onto your PC. You'll receive a notification after the download is complete so that you can choose an appropriate time to install it.
  • You can scroll through the various screens of the Get Windows 10 window to read more about the new OS.
  • When you're done, simply click the button to reserve your free upgrade.
  • The reservation screen asks for your email address so you can receive the notification. Enter your email address and click the Send confirmation button. You can now close the Get Windows 10 window.
  • Should you change your mind and wish to cancel the reservation, just click the Get Windows 10 icon again.
  • Click the three horizontal lines in the upper left corner to display the menu and click the link for View confirmation.
  • Then click the link to Cancel reservation and click the button for Cancel reservation to confirm your choice.

Windows 10 is a free upgrade. The upgrade offers the full version of Windows 10, not simply a trial or limited version. It also ensures that you can run Windows 10 on your specific device for free "for the supported lifetime of your device," according to Microsoft.

But there are some caveats. The free upgrade applies only to Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1. So if you haven't upgraded Windows 7 to SP1 or Windows 8 to 8.1, you'll have to perform those tasks first. Also, you have one year from July 29 to upgrade your PC to Windows 10 for free. After that year is up, you'll have to purchase Windows 10 yourself.

Those of you running Windows RT or RT 8.1 are out of luck. Microsoft has excluded Windows RT and RT 8.1 from the free upgrade offer.

And what will Windows 10 cost you if the miss the free upgrade window or you're running XP or Vista? On Monday, Microsoft revealed the various prices. Windows Home will retail for $119. Windows 10 Pro wil sell for price of $199. And the Windows 10 Pro Pack, which lets you upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro, will cost you $99.