While the idea of paying to update Windows 10 is concerning a lot of people, sadly it’s a bit of an inevitability. By the time Windows 10 reaches that ‘end of life’ date, the operating system will be 10 years old.
By this point, it’s likely that Microsoft will have released Windows 12, while still also supporting Windows 11. The idea that even a company as big as Microsoft could offer full support for three different operating systems is rather fanciful.
In fact, as much as I hate to admit it, I think this will actually be for the best. I’d much rather Microsoft focused on supporting its current OS by releasing security updates, bug fixes and new features, rather than spreading itself too thinly with legacy support.
Sure, it would be nice to still get those Windows 10 updates for free, but I guess this is a way for Microsoft to justify keeping a small team for releasing essential security fixes for people who want to stay on the platform.
The choice is yours
Firstly, they can upgrade to Windows 11. This is likely Microsoft’s desired outcome, as the company has been trying to encourage people to switch to the newer OS for years now, and despite various schemes, such as offering the upgrade for free, and littering users’ desktops with pop-ups suggesting they switch, many Windows 10 users remain reluctant to do so.
The threat of having to pay for updates could be enough to make them change over. While I don’t love that idea, Windows 11 is a decent OS with some useful features that people sticking with Windows 10 are missing out on. If you do upgrade, you get those new features, as well as free updates until Windows 11’s end of life, which won’t be for a while yet.
Another option is to stick with Windows 10. If you do, you’ll need to pay to get security updates (there won’t be any new features added once Windows 10 hits end-of-life). Microsoft hasn’t revealed how much this will cost, but it will likely be a subscription that will provide monthly updates.
You should also be able to use Windows 10 without paying for updates, as the operating system will continue to function after the date. This might sound appealing, but I really don’t recommend it.
Without paying, you’ll likely not get any updates, which means if a new virus emerges or security vulnerability is discovered, your PC will remain unpatched and exposed to the risk. After Windows 10 enters its end-of-life period on October 14, 2025, there’ll be no technical support offered, either – so you really will be on your own.
Malicious actors will know that Windows 10 will no longer get free updates, so it’s likely they will begin targeting unpatched versions.
Finally, you could switch operating systems to open-source Linux. Linux distributions come in all shapes and sizes, can run on pretty much any PC hardware and offer a lot of the same features and applications as Windows 10 – and all for free. Many distros, such as Ubuntu, openSUSE and Mint, offer Long Term Support (LTS) versions, which have commitments to be updated and supported until dates far off into the future – and most of these are also free.
Of course, this is the option Microsoft would least like you to take (which might be enough to sell you on it, if you feel particularly put out by the company’s decision to charge for Windows 10 updates).
At least you won’t have choose an option soon, as there’s a while left until October 14, 2025 – and hopefully by that time we’ll all be playing GTA 6, anyway. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind for now, so you don’t suddenly find yourself using a compromised version of Windows 10.