Update

You have a deadline: Windows 10's free upgrade ends July 29

Here's what to expect and how to get ready for it.

windows 10 free upgrade ends july 29

Windows 10's free upgrade ends July 29, 2016.

The Windows 10 free upgrade ends July 29. We’ve known that for a long time, but now the deadline is looming. You have just two days from today to do the deed. 

Or not. In the past month, Microsoft’s strategies for getting people to upgrade have swung from deceptive to friendly, making it hard to know what the company will pull next as the pressure mounts. Microsoft wanted Windows 10 on 1 billion devices by 2018. The company just admitted it’s not going to make it in time, but it mushes onward. Most recently, it offered to give you a free PC if Microsoft Store employees couldn’t install Windows 10 successfully on your eligible computer. (Note the word “eligible:” Don’t think you can drag in your old beater PC from 2001 and get a free PC. It has to be a PC that meets the system requirements for the Windows 10 upgrade. We spell those out below.)

We’ll be with you for Windows 10

Windows 10 is worth the upgrade for most people. But even if you can’t or won’t upgrade, don’t endanger your PC by turning off updates. Microsoft has its own FAQ and advice pages for the upgrade, and we’ve been regularly posting stories about managing the process and troubleshooting problems. 

Look for our Windows 10 banner to find all of our stories about the upgrade, the Anniversary Update (coming August 2!), and more. 

win10 minibanner

1. Confirm your system is ready for Windows 10

Like any operating system, Windows 10 has system requirements. Microsoft has a helpful page on this topic, but here’s the gist:  

  • CPU: 1GHz
  • Graphics: Must support DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display resolution: 800x600
  • RAM: 1GB for 32-bit systems, 2GB for 64-bit
  • Free storage: 16GB for 32-bit systems, 20GB for 64-bit

While it’s possible your older system could run Windows 10, it may not be pretty. Microsoft even has special error codes to signal when your system falls short of the requirements. 

For most people, however, the upgrade should go smoothly. Use these preparation tips to maximize your chances for success. 

2. Brace yourself for error codes

Nothing ever goes wrong in an upgrade, right? Right. Microsoft has an entire page devoted to upgrade issues, and we've covered steps for dealing with some of the more common problems.

One problem that might crop up immediately is a botched download—corrupted or missing files. We’ve looked into that and have some workarounds for you. 

Another unpleasant surprise would be running out of storage space for the installation process. We have some guidance for squeezing more capacity out of your drive. 

Windows 10 also analyzes your installed components and peripherals to make sure they, too, are ready for Windows 10. If Windows cries “driver problems,” here’s what to do

3. Upgrade done? Here’s what’s next

Welcome to Windows 10. Start off right by focusing on the most important things you can do in the first 30 minutes with your new operating system. We’ve even collected some of our favorite features that you’ll definitely want to try. 

Don’t worry if you get cold feet. You have 31 days after upgrading to roll back to your old operating system, and we can tell you exactly how that works. 

The free Windows 10 upgrade, and the Anniversary Update to follow, are big events for Windows users. We’ll keep you updated here with more news as these dates near. Tell us how the Windows 10 upgrade is going for you, or not, in the comments. 

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