A widespread confusion hit the testing world over whether people testing Windows 10 as part of the Windows Insider Program (WIP) were eligible for the free upgrade. Microsoft has made it clear that people testing early builds of Windows 10 can continue running the OS post its release in July. But it doesn’t ensure every tester will get a free upgrade to a licensed copy.
This was confirmed by Microsoft's general manager of the operating systems data and fundamentals team, Gabe Aul. He also made it clear that after the OS is released on 29 July, earlier builds of Windows 10 will be provided to WIP members. This is to help with further testing before the general public is gets hold of the licensed copies of Windows 10.
This means that people testing Windows 10 will be running a pre-release version with a less stable build. However, a free upgrade to Windows 10 is possible if they are also using a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8.
"As part of the program we'll upgrade Insiders to what is for all intents and purposes the same build as what other customers will get on 7/29, but that will be just another build for Insiders, and those who stay in the program will simply get the next build after as well," said Aul.
With the Windows 10 Insider Preview (Home and Pro editions) still in use WIP members with a registered Microsoft Account connected to their PC will receive new builds of Windows 10 after its July 29th release.
It is likely that the testing program will stop anytime soon, hence testers can continue running Windows 10 for the sometime. The testers will be moved to a new build each time a pre-release build expires. An ISO provided for these early builds will help them to recover from any significant problems.
If a WIP member chooses to opt out of the program after receiving the release build of Windows 10 post July 29th will have a few options. They can continue running an activated copy of Windows 10 if they had upgraded to an early build of the same from a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8. This also qualifies them for a free upgrade.
However, if they installed Windows 10 from a different OS (example Windows XP or Vista), they will have to switch back to it or buy a Windows 10 license. Failing to do so will eventually lead to expiration and they will no longer be able to use Windows 10.
A Windows icon in the taskbar for owners of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 operating systems indicates that they "reserve" the free upgrade to Windows 10. From 29th July onwards the 3GB file will be available for download and the free upgrade on July next year. According to Microsoft it is also possible to cancel reservations at any time for those choosing to switch to Windows 10.
Users must be running Windows 7 (Service Pack 1) or Windows 8 (Windows 8.1 Update) in order to upgrade via Windows Update. An ISO image from Microsoft will be available for other Windows 7 and Windows 8 users.
This sort of upgrade isn’t possible for the enterprise versions of Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows RT/RT 8.1 releases. Microsoft has said that "Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside of this offer". Its availability to users of Enterprise versions are yet to clarified even though rumours say it will happen by September or October this year.