This sticker on new Windows 8.1 systems means that it has passed the manufacturer's test for Windows 10 compatibility. Credit: Microsoft
Microsoft today confirmed that it would roll out the free upgrades to Windows 10 later this month in several "waves," with beta testers getting first dibs on the OS.
Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education, editions available only to volume licensing customers, will be ready to download on Aug. 1, three days after Microsoft releases Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro.
"Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders," wrote Terry Myerson, the top operating system and devices executive at Microsoft, on a company blog today. "From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29."
Windows Insider is the firm's name for the preview program that debuted on Oct. 1, 2014. Insider will continue after the launch of Windows 10 for those who want to live on the bleeding edge of change.
While at least some Insider participants -- perhaps all -- will get the final build on Wednesday, July 29, others eligible for the free upgrade will have to wait as Microsoft slowly expands distribution. Myerson did not elaborate on the timetable, so it could be days, weeks or even months before the push ends.
Such release "throttling" is not uncommon: Both Google and Mozilla do the same with new versions of their Chrome and Firefox browsers. Although Myerson touted the practice as good for customers -- "Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users," he said -- the tactic also reduces the chance that Microsoft's distribution servers will be overloaded and become unresponsive.
Microsoft is also using a new approach to deliver Windows 10 to those running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Windows 8.1 Update (the mandatory update issued in April 2014): People who have "reserved" an upgrade through the on-screen nag-and-notification campaign will be told that their devices are ready to update only after Microsoft has silently pushed the bits to their machines.
"If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system," said Myerson.
Neither Windows 10 Enterprise nor Windows 10 Education will be treated in that fashion for the simple reason that they are not part of the free upgrade offer. Corporations and organizations that want to migrate machines to the new OS will instead use the upgrade rights inherent in their Software Assurance plans to move to 10.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.