It wasn’t so long ago that Microsoft would charge big bucks to consumers looking to grab the next version of its Windows operating system, but as part of the major event today unleashing new info on the upcoming Windows 10 software, it has been confirmed that those on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 will be able to make the jump without having to pay.

There are, as you might expect, one or two catches, although nothing of major consequence or concern to the majority. Notably, it’ll only be free for the 12-month period following Windows 10’s initial launch, so where the software company is being somewhat generous in allowing consumers to dive into Windows 10 sans the usual fee, it could be construed as a thinly-veiled ploy to get everybody switching early.

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It is, after all, much better for the Windows ecosystem if Microsoft can persuade consumers to adopt Windows 10 early, particularly given how the forthcoming software will seek to unify the multitude of pre-existing platforms that the company has running. Speaking of which, Windows Phone 8.1 is also included in the pool of product groups eligible for the early-bird sweetener, so if you’re in ownership of a WP 8.1 device, you should be able to latch onto Windows 10 with very minimal fuss.

Microsoft has already been waxing poetic at today’s event about how it oversaw the "seamless" transition of some 600+ million users from Windows 7 to Windows 7 SP1, and is clearly looking to replicate that feat with Windows 10. It’s not clear how the Xbox maker plans to execute this strategy, with OS chief Terry Myerson having only divulged a few brief details, and while there will naturally be some minimum system requirements, we’d also suspect that the vast majority of Windows 7 / 8.1-ready machines and devices are up to coping with the rigors of Windows 10.

Windows 10 free upgrade

The emphasis on coaxing Windows 7 users into the bargain is particularly significant, because, as we’ve seen with Apple’s iOS, an ecosystem with majority early adoption is more favorable both in terms of software updates and potential developer reach.

Once that year’s grace period is up, there’s no telling how much Microsoft could demand for a Windows 10 license, and whilst it’s not likely to be excessive, the thought of getting something for free should be a sufficient pull factor in luring in those who’d otherwise sit on the fence.

Thoughts?

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