What does Free Windows 10 mean for SMBs?

Posted February 18, 2015 by Bobby Kneisel

Microsoft has announced that for Windows 7, 8, & 8.1 users, Windows 10 will be free. By most accounts, Windows 10 has been a pretty big hit with the participants in the technical preview, myself included. Overall, Windows 10 seems to have done a great job of bringing back what Windows 7 does well (traditional start menu, more logical navigation for keyboard and mouse users), while keeping some of the benefits of Windows 8 (better touch interface, speed and security enhancements). Now that they’ve announced it will be free what does that mean for Small to Medium-Sized Business (SMBs)?

Well first, let’s make sure we understand what will and won’t be free, and for how long. In general, most editions of Windows 7 & 8.1 users will get Windows 10 free, but there are a few exceptions, namely Windows 7, & 8/8.1 Enterprise licenses and Windows RT licenses won’t be free upgrades. This means if your company uses Enterprise licenses (most likely through a volume license subscription), you will still be paying for Windows 10. However, the majority of SMBs need not worry about this. Most of those will have machines licensed either with retail or OEM (meaning you either bought Windows 7, 8/8.1 separately, or it came on the computer you bought), and these will be free. However, it won’t be free forever, just for the first year after Windows 10 is released.

Now this has a couple of great benefits to SMBs:



  •  A free upgrade to the latest version of Windows will save a lot of money in the long run
  •  Not having to worry about running a version of Windows that won’t be supported by Microsoft.

One of the biggest IT costs a company will have is upgrading to a new version of Windows. It is expensive to buy the licensing per machine and can sometimes require new hardware be purchased. Now, a free license doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to buy hardware, but having to buy a new version of Windows for a machine that works great will be avoided (those of you who had to scramble to upgrade XP machines understand). The other big break is not having to worry about running a version of Windows not supported by Microsoft. Windows 7 mainstream support has ended (this means that only security fixes are pushed and no other bug fixes or new features are added), so the days are numbered for that venerable operating system. Microsoft has announced that they will support any device running Windows 10 for the life of the device.

There is one thing to remember though, while it makes sense to update to Windows 10 during the first year it is released, it’s not wise to do it immediately after release. Any new piece of software will have bugs and issues, and you want to wait to roll it out until after the big ones have been fixed. Lastly, you’ll want to plan a measured roll-out to make sure that any programs you use will work properly on the new system.

All-in-all a free license for the latest and greatest version of Windows is something all SMBs can smile about! If you’re not sure if your business will qualify, give us a call and we can review it for you.