The Windows 10 global roll out is just over two weeks away and Microsoft is starting to share some of its retail plans for the big launch on July 29. Despite the fact that online upgrades are going to be a gradual roll out, Microsoft really wants people to upgrade soon--be it online or through buying a new PC.
To encourage upgrading in-store, Microsoft created programs with major retailers around the world to help put Windows 7 and 8 in the proverbial rear-view mirror. In the U.S., stores like Best Buy, Staples, and Wal-Mart will offer support services for help with upgrading and data migration to new PCs.
That's an unusual move for Wal-Mart, which typically doesn't go in for Geek Squad-style tech support. Best Buy and Staples, however, are no strangers to tech support and would have offered these services for any Windows launch. That begs the question whether these services will be free during the launch period or if it just means there'll be a nice looking poster from Microsoft at the Geek Squad bench.
There's a major difference between getting free data transfer or paying the usual--and astronomical--$70 to $100 for in-store help with data migration. Beyond tech support, the retailers will also have Windows 10 "experience stations" where you can try Windows 10 in-store.
The impact on you at home: Microsoft really wants Windows 7 and 8 users to take advantage of the Windows 10 free upgrade offer that lasts for the next year. If you're an entrenched Windows 7 user, there's probably little appeal to switching unless you already want a new PC.
Windows 8 and 8.1 PC users, on the other hand, should really move along. Windows 10 is an operating system better tuned to mouse-and-keyboard devices (read: no Start screen by default), sees the return of the Start menu, and makes Windows Store apps at least somewhat useful. Plus you get an interesting new built-in browser and Cortana integration, among other cool new features.
The Microsoft Stores will also get in the spirit of the season. More than 110 company retail locations in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico will have Windows 10 demonstrations, as well as prizes and giveaways. There will also be specially tuned Answer Desk services for Windows 10 and free in-store workshops to help train North Americans on the ins and outs of the new OS.
Not sure you can remember when the Windows 10 launch will be? Don't worry. Microsoft is launching a major advertising campaign next Monday, July 20 complete with TV and online ads.