The free upgrade to Windows 10 ended on 29 July 2016. You can still upgrade, of course, but should you? With scare stories of ransomware encrypting files on unsupported versions of Windows, there are certainly reasons to consider it.
Here’s what you need to know about the pros and cons of upgrading to Windows 10.
Which versions of Windows are still supported?
Microsoft is pulled the plug on Windows Vista support on April 11 2017, and Windows XP hasn’t received security patches for a while now. In the wake of multiple ransomware attacks, Microsoft has taken the unusual step of issuing a patch for both operating systems because of the high risk and fact that millions of people are still using these versions of Windows.
However, this has come after computers have been infected, which is why it’s best to use a version of Windows that receives automatic updates that help to protect you (and your files) from disaster.
Windows 8 isn’t supported either, but most machines with Windows 8 should have been updated to Windows 8.1, which is still supported. Windows 7 also receives updates and will until 14 January 2020.
On ending support for Vista, Microsoft said, “the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies“, meaning that it will no longer receive Windows security updates, nor will developers offer support for the dated operating system. We advise upgrading to Windows 10 if possible after this date, as you’ll have limited access to new software and may be vulnerable in terms of online security.
How much does it cost to upgrade to Windows 10?
Currently, Windows 10 Home costs £119.99 and the Pro version will set you back £219.99.
As you’ll see in our Home vs Pro comparison, few home users will need the extra features in Pro.
It’s a clear message from Microsoft (and we happen to agree) that it’s not the best plan to stick with XP or Vista. And if your computer is running Vista or XP then the chances are it’s quite old, and likely to have parts wearing out.
Instead of splashing out £119.99, you could put that amount towards the cost of a new machine. Check our reviews of the best PCs and best cheap laptops available to ensure you get the best possible value.
Virtually all software for Windows XP and Vista work in Windows 10, and remember that some software is already obselete for older operating systems such as XP and Vista – the Google Chrome browser is the latest to join the list. While you could switch to another browser (read our advice on the best browsers for Windows), how many times will you switch your software before you upgrade your PC?
Microsoft has kept the upgrade deal open for users of assistive technologies. This isn’t meant as a way of upgrading to Windows 10 if you didn’t upgrade by the deadline back in 2016, though. Plus, you can’t directly upgrade from XP or Vista in any case.
Those who choose to upgrade to Windows 10 will also benefit from the Creators Update, which came out in April 2017 and the Fall Creators Update which is set to come out towards the end of the year.
Can I downgrade Windows 10?
A common question is how easily can you go back to your old OS if you don’t like it. The answer with Windows 10 is that it’s very easy.
Microsoft has built in a simple process that only requires a few clicks to have the system roll back to your previous version of Windows (so long as you haven’t deleted the windows.old folder in which the previous version lives). You can read our guide to downgrading Windows 10.
Of course, as with any operating system installation, you’ll want to make a full backup of your data before you begin either the upgrade or the downgrade.