Windows 10 is here! On July 29, 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10 to the world. Since then, Mirazon has been getting lots of questions from our clients about whether or not they can upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Back in June, I wrote a post about Windows 10 licensing for small and medium businesses. Now that the product is out, we can fill in some of the gaps and correct some of our misunderstandings.
Pro or Enterprise?
If you’re a small or medium business looking to upgrade, you are going to want Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise. The first question is, of course, which one should you get? You can download a list of features in each of the editions here. Pro will be adequate for most people. Enterprise includes all the features of Pro, plus the following:
- Windows to Go Creator
- Start Screen Control with Group Policy
- Granular UX Control
- Credential Guard
- Device Guard
- Specialized updates through the “Long Term Servicing Branch.” This service provides IT admins with the option to apply security fixes to everyone’s Windows machines without applying feature upgrades. Since Microsoft intends to be constantly updating the Windows 10 OS, this could be a handy feature if you want to test the new features in the lab before pushing them out to your workstations.
How do you acquire licensing for Windows 10 Pro?
Once you’ve decided which version is right for your business, the next question is: how do you get it?
Windows 10 Pro is available as a free upgrade for many businesses. Lots of people are wondering, is this really free? Yes. It is really and truly free. It is not a trial version. It is not a beta. It’s the real deal and it’s free. Why, you ask? Because Microsoft is switching gears when it comes to licensing Windows and they want as many people as possible to jump on the bandwagon. They want Windows 10 to be the platform people are using for the next 10 years. See my post here for more information.
So, all you need is a qualifying license of Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, or Windows 8.1 Pro. If you have that, then Microsoft will allow you to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free.
To get your free copy of Windows 10 Pro, click on the Windows icon in the lower right corner of your desktop screen (circled in red below). Microsoft will provide you with a report about whether or not your PC is compatible with Windows 10, and you can reserve your free upgrade through that tool. There may be some delay from when you reserve it to when you actually get it due to the fact that Microsoft is doing a gradual roll-out. See Microsoft’s FAQ here for more information.
If you don’t have a license for Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, or Windows 8.1 Pro, then unfortunately you don’t have a qualifying license. In that case, you will need to purchase an upgrade license for Windows 10 Pro. Mirazon can provide you with a quote for that upon request.
How do you acquire licensing for Windows 10 Enterprise?
If you decide you want to get Windows 10 Enterprise, the process is a little more complicated and a lot more expensive. Unless you have Software Assurance on your Windows licenses (which most SMBs don’t), you will need to purchase an upgrade license for Windows 10 Enterprise. But before you buy the upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise, you will need to have a Windows 10 Pro license in place. (See the information in the previous section.) So if you’re like most people and you don’t have SA on your Windows licenses, here is your upgrade path to Windows 10 Enterprise:
How much does the Enterprise license cost?
Naturally, the next question is: how much will it cost to upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise? The cheapest way to do it is to purchase an upgrade license with 2 years of SA through Microsoft’s Open Business licensing program. That license with SA costs $317 per desktop. Microsoft does not give you the option to purchase an upgrade license without SA if you are buying through one of their volume licensing programs.