Update - 21 May 2015

It appears the blog post which we used as the basis for this story has been changed significantly as of today.  All of the bulleted information below, which was quoted directly from that post, is no longer present on that page for some reason.

It is possible that there was more information there than Microsoft wanted published at this point however, the post itself does not contain any explanation as to why it was modified.

I suspect there are multiple grains of truth in what we picked up and hopefully Microsoft will clarify the entire upgrade and licensing situation sooner rather than later.

Original story follows:

In the last week we have learned that there will be six Windows 10 Editions when the new OS releases over the course of the next several months.

Microsoft is yet to explain the exact details of how the free Windows 10 upgrade will work for users of Windows 7/8.1.

While that info is expected as we get closer to Windows 10 RTM, which is currently sometime this summer, I may have found some good indicators of the various paths to Windows 10.

While I was perusing the official MSDN RSS feeds earlier today I came across a blog post from the Microsoft Australia Partner Network site which was a recap of recent Windows 10 announcements.

In this blog post, written by Alex Snelson a Windows product manager for Microsoft Australia, the free upgrade scenarios and licensing for the various Windows 10 Editions including eligibility for the free upgrade, upgrade paths and licensing channels are laid out.

First, here is the list of editions that were announced last week and free upgrade/licensing info:

  • Windows 10 Home for consumers and BYOD scenarios, available under the free upgrade
  • Windows 10 Pro for small and lower mid-size businesses, available under the free upgrade
  • Windows 10 Enterprise for Mid-size and large enterprises, available under VL
  • Windows 10 Education designed to meet the needs of schools – teachers, students, staff, and administrators, available under VL
  • Windows 10 Mobile for consumer, small, mid-size and large enterprises and academic institutions, available under OEM
  • Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for mid-size and large enterprises with IoT scenarios, available under OEM (IoT), VL

Secondly, she lays out the version of Windows 7/8.1 and what they are eligible to upgrade to under Windows 10:

  • Microsoft will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices in the first year. After the first year, upgrades will be paid via boxed product and VL Upgrades.
  • Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 7 Home Basic and Home Premium devices upgrade to Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 8/8.1 Pro and Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate devices upgrade to Windows 10 Pro
  • If upgraded within the first 12 months following launch, the device will receive ongoing Windows 10 updates for free for the life of that device
  • Excludes Windows Enterprise and RT devices
  • The free Windows 10 upgrade is delivered through Windows Update; domain-joined machines can manually get the update via Windows Update. The upgrade cannot be deployed through WSUS.

Based on that last bullet it appears the Windows 10 update will be provided to properly licensed versions of Windows 7/8.1 through Windows Update instead of the Windows Store. This is exactly how Microsoft initially pushed the Windows 10 Technical Preview to Insiders on Windows 7 and 8.1 so the system has been well tested.

You might recall that Microsoft pushed the Windows 8.1 update to users on Windows 8 through the Windows Store and it proved to have its share of challenges.

Hopefully, Microsoft will also provide properly licensed users of Windows 7/8.1 with a license key that can be used with an ISO of the correct version of Windows 10 for their system instead of having to install the old OS and subsequent updates in order to perform the upgrade to Windows 10 if a clean install is necessary.

Thankfully, once the update to Windows 10 has been done, the user should also be able to use the Reset or Refresh options in Windows to give themselves a fresh start with Windows 10 as necessary.