You have a month to downgrade to Windows 8.1 if Windows 10 isn't right for you

A return policy for Windows 10, sort of

Windows 10 downgrade option

What if you downloaded Windows 10 on July 29 and have buyer's remorse after trying out the operating system?

Like most purchases, Microsoft is giving you a 30-day purchase window to decide if Windows 10 is right for you. If you find out that you didn't like Windows 10, you can simply rollback to whatever version of Windows that was on your system before you decided to dive head-first into Microsoft's new world.

Downgrading

The rollback feature isn't new, and Microsoft had provided this option in early preview builds of Windows 10 to testers in the Windows Insider program.

However, the most recent Build 10240 release, which is believed to be the Windows 10 release sent to manufacturers, or the RTM build, comes with language stating that you have a month to downgrade. Preview builds did not have this time stipulation.

"This option is only available for a month after you upgrade to Windows 10," Microsoft warns on Build 10240.

On my Dell Latitude 12 7000 Series (E7250) Ultrabook review unit, the option to downgrade is found when I clicked on the new Start menu, navigate to Settings and chose the Update and Security option. Within that menu, when I clicked on Recovery in the left navigation pane, I was given three options: Reset this PC, Go back to Windows 8.1 and Advanced startup.

Choosing the second option would allow me to go back to the version of Windows on my Latitude prior to my upgrade to Windows 10. Since Dell ships the Latitude 12 with Windows 8.1, this was explicitly stated as the option, but I imagine that if you're upgrading from Windows 7 the option would read "Go back to Windows 7."

Resetting the PC would give me a clean installation of Windows 10 on my Latitude. It's a useful option for Insiders who have upgraded through the various builds in the Preview program and want to start their official Windows 10 experience with a fresh copy.

So if you're unhappy and you know it, you have approximately a month to time travel to your own happier days on Windows 7, 8 or 8.1.

The best practice is to have the recovery media that comes with your Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 systems. Newer laptops may not ship with a recovery DVD, but you can create a recovery USB drive with the software tools that the manufacturer preloaded on your PC system. This way, you'll be able to downgrade outside of Microsoft's timeframe.

It's unclear if users if users of Windows XP or earlier versions of the operating system will get the option to downgrade. Microsoft has been quiet to date about Windows 10 upgrades for users on older OSes.

Windows 10

Windows 10 will launch on July 29 to consumers globally. The operating system brings with it new features, such as the Halo-inspired Cortana digital assistant, a new Start experience that combines the familiarity of the Start menu of Windows 7 and the Live Tiles on Windows 8, a new Microsoft Edge browser, more ways to multitask with virtual desktops and snapping, improved support for hybrid and convertible notebooks with Continuum and a new desktop background.

If you're upgrading from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade during the first year of launch. On July 29, eligible customers will receive Windows 10 as a free download during the first year of launch, and those customers migrating from Windows 7 or later will be able to continue using Windows 10 with regular updates for the life of their devices.

For users who don't qualify for the free during the first year promotion, Windows 10 will cost $119 (£99, €135) for the Home edition and Windows 10 Pro will cost $199. Microsoft has not announced global pricing for Pro. If you paid to purchase Windows 10, refund policies for software vary depending on where you purchased your copy.

Microsoft will provide Windows 10 on a rolling update schedule for consumers, meaning that you may not receive your digital download immediately on launch day. As a courtesy to those who have helped test the operating system, Microsoft previously said that Insiders will be among the first to be able to download the new operating system.

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