Are you entitled to a free copy of Windows 10? There's a flowchart for that. However, there's no flowchart to tell you when you might actually get Microsoft's new operating system. Officially, Windows 10 is coming on July 29, but not everyone will get it that day — now, says Microsoft, it will roll out in waves.
The official Windows Blog explains:
Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders. From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th. Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.
So if you're part of Microsoft's Windows Insider beta testing program, maybe you'll get it on July 29. Maybe. For everyone else, you'd better have clicked that "Get Windows 10" prompt that mysteriously showed up in your Windows toolbar to reserve your digital copy of the OS, because those will also be rolling out in waves. Microsoft doesn't say if they're first-come, first-serve, but the company doesn't say they aren't either.
Honestly, this is probably a good thing. From what I've seen of the preview builds, Windows 10 isn't quite ready. I've run into a wide variety of bugs that you don't typically see this close to the launch of a major operating system. Tom Warren, a Windows 10 expert at The Verge, seems to agree. Launching this way lets Microsoft iron out these issues slowly, relying on its most dedicated and enthusiastic users to help spot the bugs — instead of facing a potential backlash by releasing a "finished" OS to everyone simultaneously.
And it's hard to argue with that strategy when Microsoft is handing out Windows 10 for free!
Just don't be surprised if — when July 29 rolls around — you can't find your copy.